Remarks to the Sustainable Energy Fair, 2010
March 12, 2010
Good morning and thank you all for coming to this wonderful annual event. Special welcome to Ingrid Stefanovic, Director, Centre for Environment.
Universities across the province are increasingly being seen as leaders in environmental sustainability. At U of T, we pride ourselves on our accomplishments in three primary areas:
- Environment projects, many led by students
- The built form of our campuses
Let me say a few words about each.
Our track record extends back four decades, beginning with Zoologist Donald Chant, the founder of Pollution Probe in 1969.
What started as a small group of University of Toronto faculty and students in 1969, has grown into a national organization with more than 25,000 supporters.
Shortly after its founding, Energy Probe was started as one of its central projects and remains one of the country’s most influential voices on energy policy.
Over the following decades our campus has undertaken countless initiatives, large and small, that have greatly reduced our impact on the environment. Let me highlight just a few:
This year we launched coffee cup recycling and composting on campus, so that if we forget our reusable mugs, we know our paper cups will no longer end up in the landfill.
A newly-launched paper conservation program at Gerstein Library saved 16,000 sheets in the first month alone, largely through the simple action of setting machines to print and copy on both sides by default.
Over the past nearly 20 years, we have replaced or retrofitted well over 100,000 light fixtures with energy efficient bulbs.
Since 2005, we have been using environmentally sustainable cleaning products and practices to maintain our 11 million square feet of building space.
We were the first university in North America with a hybrid vehicle on its campus police force.
Last month, the Faculty of Phys Ed unveiled its rooftop water solar-heating project at the Athletic Centre.
And the UofT Campus Agriculture project, a student group, is gearing up for an even bigger season of rooftop gardening and campus agriculture.
This project in particular, highlights the role our St. George campus plays as an integral part of the green space of Toronto.
As our campuses expand, our commitment to environmental sustainability is more important than ever. Faced with demands for new space, we are carefully focused on creating the greenest buildings we can, and our efforts are paying off.
The office of Real Estate Operations and Facilities and Services, has been awarded U of T’s FIRST gold certification under the renowned Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – or LEED – Green Building Rating System.
- Harvested rainwater-driven toilets to reduce water use
- Demand control ventilation to reduce air conditioning and maintain air quality, and
- Dimmable florescent lighting to reduce electricity.
This LEED gold certification is a huge achievement, and a testament to the University’s commitment to creating innovative approaches to sustainability.
We are continuing that effort at two new buildings at the University of Toronto Mississauga, which are planned to be LEED-certified silver or better.
These are the Health Sciences Complex and the Instructional Centre Complex, both of which broke ground last summer. The Instructional Centre will be 100% heated and cooled by a geothermal system to significantly reduce energy use in the building.
Significant thanks for these initiatives go to Vice-President Cathy Riggall, Manager of Sustainability Projects Attila Keszei, and the team at Facilities and Services who, with their quiet passion, manage to move these ideas forward.
In the east, the University of Toronto Scarborough is situated on a protected ravine lot, and the buildings being constructed for the PanAm Games will turn former waste sites from brownfield to greenfield.
Environmental projects and building sustainability are important for our campus, but they aren’t always very exportable. Fortunately, we have some of the world’s foremost environmental scholars …
Work at the Centre for Environment, under the leadership of Ingrid Stefanovic, supports the work of dozens of researchers, has helped inform the International Panel on Climate Change and also supports environmental projects on campus, including the Sustainability Office, the organizers of today’s event.
Professor Ted Sargent in U of T’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering has been advancing solar power through nanotechnology. Professor Sargent has invented a substance that can be painted onto surfaces that harvests the sun’s infrared energy, not just its UV energy.
Another innovator is Professor Mohini Sain in our Faculty of Forestry. Professor Sain is using renewable resources (potato starch, soybean oil, wood and agro-fibre) to construct, of all things, auto parts
Dick Peltier, founder of UofT’s Centre for Global Change Science , recently won the 2010 Bower Award and Prize for Achievement in Science. Prof. Peltier is known worldwide for his work in global climate change and his models are considered the gold standard for researchers trying to understand climate change.
While we might not be as good at advertising our environmental achievements as we are the international awards received by our faculty and students, it’s clear that we’re on the right path.
Continuing a four decade long tradition, the students involved in today’s fair take a leading role in addressing the special responsibility that institutions of higher education have to become sustainable – all the while assisting and fostering the sustainability movement locally, nationally and internationally.
You are the next leaders of our communities, corporations and governments, and the values of sustainability need to be encouraged and promoted on all fronts.
So I encourage the students of the University of Toronto to continue doing what you’re doing – to continue to innovate and to volunteer, to take advantage of the sustainable programs offered at U of T and to continue getting involved both on and off campus.
Thank you and best wishes for a successful fair.
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