Industry News

 View Only

U of T's sustainability efforts highlighted at Toronto Region Board of Trade event

By District Energy posted 11-02-2021 15:33


U of T News


University of Toronto research in clean-tech and renewable energy will help organizations in the Toronto region and across Canada achieve net-zero emissions – while generating thousands of new jobs, says Scott Mabury, U of T’s vice-president, operations and real estate partnerships.

At the same time, U of T’s own ambitious carbon-reduction plan will serve as a model for other universities and institutions, Mabury told members of the Toronto Region Board of Trade during a panel discussion last week.

The event – which occurred prior to U of T’s Oct. 27 announcement that the University of Toronto Asset Management Corporation would divest directly held fossil fuel investments within 12 months and all indirect fossil fuel investments no later than 2030 – was held in advance of the international conference on climate change in Glasgow.

The hour-long “Power Breakfast” virtual event featured Mabury, Catherine McKenna, a U of T alumna who has served as the federal minister of the environment and minister infrastructure and communities, and Ken Hartwick, president and CEO of Ontario Power Generation.

Despite the immense challenges every country faces to lower emissions, McKenna described the transition to green energy as a huge economic opportunity for Canada that will require a domestic commitment to innovation in low-carbon technology.

“It’s about whether Canada will be competitive,” she said. “We either go all in … or we will lose, and that means our economy will suffer.”

Mabury noted that U of T’s own research programs into green tech and renewable energy have attracted almost half a billion dollars in funding, in areas such as energy storage, energy transmission and decarbonization. What’s more, clean-tech startups founded at the university have raised almost $300 million over the past decade.

He described U of T’s own plan to go beyond net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. The plan sets out how and when the university will achieve most of its reductions, as well as how it will fund each step of the $1.3-billion initiative. "We hope to serve as the model for other institutions – not simply by making a pledge but by delivering an auditable plan for how we’re going to get there.”

Central to the university’s efforts for the St. George campus is the construction of Canada’s largest geoexchange field under King’s College Circle. That project alone will reduce the university’s emissions by 15,000 metric tonnes a year. Several other carbon-reduction projects are listed in the university’s Low-Carbon Action Plan and its climate-positive plan for the St. George campus.