“Real Time” at Energy Savings at OISE

Collaboration is the key to making our campus ‘Greener’!

OISE innovators

There was no fanfare. There were no trumpets blazing. There were no guest speakers, and no balloons. But these eco-heroes didn’t want a big party… as far as they are concerned, they were just doing their jobs.

It’s stuff that most of us take for granted: the heating systems that keep us warm, the ventilation that keeps our air clean and occupancy sensors that help control it all… Day to day, most of us don’t even think about these conveniences.

But there are some little-known eco-heroes in our St. George community who think of nothing else, and who are constantly making strides to ensure that we are comfortable, while minimizing our environmental impact.

Today, we took a moment to help them celebrate their most recent eco-achievement: the introduction of innovative new ventilation controls in the OISE building.

In a truly collaborative effort, staff from Facilities and Services: Energy Management, Building Operations, Sustainability Office, Finance, and Property Management came together with the support of the Project Management team to beef up the abilities of the OISE building’s occupancy control system. This project has not only improved the comfort of those who work in the building, but it is saving a huge amount of energy – and 920 tonnes of greenhouse gases per year. (For those of us who aren’t “tons of GHG” savvy, that’s the equivalent of keeping 194 cars off the road every year).

Another way to look at it: you know a project is impressively energy savvy when you can make a 1970’s building run as efficiently and effectively as many newer buildings of today, and when Toronto Hydro is willing to write an incentive cheque for a third of the cost just to help make it happen.

The money for this innovative project came from the “Utilities Reduction Revolving Fund” which was set up about 3 years ago to fund energy saving projects on campus. The energy savings from the OISE project will pay back the same amount of money into the fund over the next two and a half years. The incentive money contributed by Toronto Hydro gets reinvested in the revolving fund too, helping it grow over time. To date, the incentive money has contributed more than half a million dollars to the revolving fund for future projects.

So add “OISE’s innovative use of thermal sensors and Variable Speed Drive (VSD) fans” to the long (and sometimes difficult to understand) list of projects that have been implemented over the years. This collaborative team is saving energy, saving carbon emissions, and ultimately, saving the university money by reducing the monthly energy bills for years to come. And as we all know, less money spent on heating means keeping more money where it belongs – in the classroom.

The funny thing is, that getting these eco-heroes together to celebrate the accomplishment is actually a challenge. As far as they are concerned, they are just doing their job. If the students in OISE are comfortable (despite the cold temperatures outside!) then they are learning better, and if the staff and faculty have a comfortable working environment then research and teaching goes more smoothly and students are better supported. Making that happen AND doing it in the most energy efficient way? Well, that’s just part of the job to these folks.

A photo op next to our green wall, some “Greener U of T” buttons, and a good old fashioned high five. Hopefully it was enough to make them realize that their work is making a difference… even if no one notices.

Thank you to everyone who worked together to make it happen. We can’t wait to see what you are going to do next!


By Lauren Binette 

February 24, 2015