As the saying goes, waste is a terrible thing to waste. They don’t say that, but they should. Because one of our member cities, Toronto, is doing everything it can to ensure it’s not wasting waste — specifically human poop. Steaming piles of it.
Steaming being the operative word here, which also includes all that heated water — from hot showers, dishwashers and washing machines — that we send to the sewer.
There’s a lot of wasted energy in the form of heat. Harnessing it and making use of that energy, then, helps ensure that this energy, and those corresponding dollars, aren’t being flushed down the proverbial and literal drain. Vancouver launched North America’s first district energy system to draw heat from untreated wastewater over a decade ago.
Using infrastructure that the city already owns, and partnering with the private sector, Toronto is in the middle of building the world’s largest system to transfer the energy from human waste and make good use of it to support a Toronto hospital.
Once it’s finished, it’ll be the biggest raw wastewater energy system in the world, and it’ll provide 90 percent of the heating and cooling requirements for University Health Network’s Toronto Western Hospital. It’ll supply a whopping 19 MW of thermal energy to the hospital.