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UofG Sustainability

Energy and Climate

The Green Gryphon Initiative 

At U of G, we have a commitment to securing a brighter future. It unites us in our mission to put innovation into action. The Green Gryphon Initiative is part of that commitment. Launched in 2013, this $26.2 million plan has resulted in the annual reduction of 4,700 tonnes of GHG emissions. This partnership between Physical Resources, the University of Guelph, and the Student Energy Retrofit Fund has also contributed to more than $2.5 million in annual savings. Through large-scale lighting retrofits, heating and cooling system upgrades, water savings measures, thermal energy storage, and community engagement, the Green Gryphon Initiative is part of who we are at U of G. Together, we Improve Life.

No Heat Wasted 

When it comes to heating and cooling campus, U of G utilizes a century-old district energy system; that system enables reducing emissions associated with heating the campus.

In the early 1900’s, our district heating system was developed to carry steam heated by a centrally-located coal-burning boiler to heat the few buildings on campus at the time. With district energy, there were savings in labour and expenses by having one boiler instead of each building needing a furnace room and people to stoke each buildings furnace.

Over 100 years later, the tunnels that were put in place then, are supporting the University’s goal to decarbonize campus heating by improving the efficiency of our district energy system, and maximizing heat recovery.

For example, in 2004 the first Heat Recovery System was installed as part of energy efficiency upgrades at the Central Utilities Plant. This system captured waste heat to warm water, heating the Mackinnon Building, the Mackinnon extension and Rozanski Hall with heat previously wasted.

The Heat Recovery System was expanded in 2019, to warm eight more buildings with waste heat.

This captured waste heat is considered zero incremental carbon, as additional natural gas is not used to heat the water resulting in over 5000 tonnes of eCO2/ year.


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