Since 1974, the University of Ottawa has continuously implemented changes to its infrastructure to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), and energy and water consumption. All of the campus’ infrastructure systems (heating, cooling, electrical, air and water flow, etc.) are routinely monitored and evaluated, allowing us to identify areas where consumption could be reduced by modifying or replacing the existing systems. Projects that reduce a building’s energy consumption by 25% or more are known as “Deep Energy Retrofits” and play a pivotal role in uOttawa’s journey to reducing its GHG emissions by 80% by the end of 2050, as legislated by the Government of Ontario in 2016.
Understanding the Retrofits
Some of the units used to measure the University’s consumption can seem a little abstract if you’re not already familiar with them. Before looking over the different retrofits, here’s a quick introduction to what we measure and what that could represent in everyday life.
- Gigajoules (GJ) are a measure of energy, thermal in this case, that represent how much natural gas we use to heat the campus. In Ontario, the average house uses about 87.5 GJ in heating every year.
- Megawatt hours (MWh), or 1000 kilowatt hours (kWh), is used to express power consumption over time; most home electrical bills are calculated in KWh. Running a fridge year-round, 24 hours a day, consumes an average of 0.9 MWh.
- Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the main greenhouse gas (GHG) produced by human activity. To make emissions simpler to quantify, all GHG are converted into the equivalent amount of CO2. Taking one car off the road for a year would eliminate an average of 4.7 tonnes of CO2.