A University of Toronto student is bringing together homeowners and solar panel installers in an attempt to increase the use of sustainable energy systems in residential homes across Canada.
Rylan Urban, a second-year student in the Master of Science in Sustainability Management program, launched Energyhub.org a year ago and has since helped broker over $1 million in residential solar sales across five provinces.
Urban got the idea for the website after noting a lack of accessible information for Canadian homeowners interested in sustainable energy systems. He decided to bridge that knowledge gap with the creation of a comprehensive, information source that homeowners would find useful.
Urban began by answering questions he would have as a homeowner interested in installing a solar power system. That included information on the cost of solar systems, where to get them installed, what the installation process looks like, how effective they are when there’s snow, timelines and rebate programs.
“I went through the very long and laborious process of answering those questions, specific to every single province and territory in Canada,” Urban says, explaining a lot of the information was scattered across utility, government, regulatory and individual company websites.
“There was no real central place that brought it all together. I’ve tried to make it really easy for someone who is interested in sustainable energy systems to find everything they need in one place.”
The site now gets more than 15,000 visitors a month who are looking for information on how to tap into the sustainable energy market.
Urban also acts as a facilitator, connecting customers with installation companies and earning a small fee in the process. The project also helped land him an internship, which has already led to a full-time position as an energy consultant after he graduates.
The big motivation behind the project, though, is promoting sustainability.
“Climate change and, more generally, systemic sustainability issues are important to me,” Urban says. “I think that these are very important issues that humanity is going to have to solve in the next 10 to 50 years if we want the planet to continue operating the same way it does today.”
Urban plans to expand the focus of Energyhub.org to include other products and services, including wind and geothermal systems. He says he would also like to add information about general efficiency and smart home technologies.