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Earth Day: See how U of T’s campuses are building sustainability into their operations

At the cutting-edge New Science Building on the banks of the Credit River in Mississauga, a geothermal system will cover 90 per cent of the building’s energy requirements. In Scarborough, the Environmental and Related Technologies Hub (EaRTH), a green tech research and innovation district will feature Ontario’s first net-zero vertical farm. And in downtown Toronto, the St. George campus will be home to Canada’s largest urban geoexchange system.

These are some of the University of Toronto's flagship construction projects, highlighted in a new Earth Day video series, that are poised to make significant contributions to U of T’s Low-Carbon Action Plan – which strives to cut greenhouse gas emissions across the three campuses by 37 per cent from 1990 levels by the year 2030.

It's all part of the university's ambitious efforts to integrate sustainability into every facet of the institution – operations, teaching and learning, research, engagement and partnerships – as outlined in the latest annual report by the President’s Advisory Committee on the Environment, Climate Change and Sustainability (CECCS).

“These projects demonstrate that U of T recognizes the imperative to become part of the solution when it comes to sustainability and climate action,” says CECCS Co-Chair John Robinson. “They represent powerful ways to connect operational and academic sustainability through campus as living lab research projects for students and faculty, and also give rise to important lessons of interest to our off-campus partners.”

 

 

At the St. George campus, efforts are underway to work towards achieving climate positivity before 2050 via a variety of efforts outlined in the Sustainability Office’s most recent annual report.

These include ambitious construction initiatives such as the Landmark Project, which aims to revitalize the historic core of the St. George campus and includes the geoexchange field being built underneath Front Campus. The Sustainability Office has also launched its Sustainable Change Programs that offer resources, support and certification around sustainability best practices.

 

 

At U of T Mississauga, sustainability is being embedded into every facet of campus life as outlined in its Sustainability Strategic Plan, featuring 102 targets and more than two dozen goals. The New Science Building currently under construction is one of numerous infrastructure projects that place sustainability at the forefront.

 

 

U of T Scarborough, meanwhile, has several green building projects on the go, including its net-zero vertical farm, which will produce as much energy as it uses on an annual basis, and a Parking and Retail Commons, a unique concept that uses timber to construct a multi-level parking structure with retail at street level – an Ontario first.

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