The University of Windsor announced the installation of a new dual drive, electric-steam turbine chiller — the first of its kind at a Canadian university.

The chiller, which drives the heating, cooling, and ventilation systems of about 30 buildings across campus, was unveiled alongside University leadership, students, staff, and Enbridge Gas representatives. The project denotes one of the largest sustainability initiatives undertaken by the University this year and is part of an ambitious plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent in seven years and net zero by 2050.

“This milestone project marks our unwavering dedication to environmental stewardship and energy efficiency,” said Gillian Heisz, UWindsor vice-president, finance and operations. “It not only supports our sustainability objectives, but also hopefully inspires others to embrace similar measures.”

Nadia Harduar, the University’s sustainability officer, added: “This fall, we are thrilled to unveil our Campus Carbon Neutral Master Plan, a comprehensive roadmap that outlines our bold strategy to further reduce emissions and create a more sustainable campus for generations to come. This plan works to address one of the priorities outlined in the University’s overall strategic plan released in the summer.”

Located within the Energy Conversion Centre on Patricia Street, the York YST chiller uses energy-efficient electricity, complemented by alternative steam energy. By seamlessly combining these two energy sources, the advanced hybrid technology will reduce the equivalent of 8,300 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions each year by minimizing natural gas usage and saving an estimate of over $1 million annually.

The reduction in emissions is equivalent to removing 2,000 cars off the roads in a single year. This measure alone will achieve 82 per cent of the University’s 2030 emission reduction target.

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Representatives from Enbridge Gas were on hand to celebrate the chiller installation and present incentives of $200,000 in recognition of the University’s participation in the utility’s Commercial Energy Efficiency program. The program rewards companies for meeting their sustainability goals. The University has received more than $438,400 from Enbridge Gas since 2018 by reducing reliance on natural gas through energy-efficient equipment upgrades, installation of demand-control ventilation systems, and more.

Sarah Van Der Paelt, director of marketing and energy conservation for Enbridge Gas, said the company is proud to work closely with clients to maximize efficiencies.

“Through a combination of innovation, collaboration, and conservation efforts, we have created a successful strategy to reduce emissions while embracing a clean energy future,” Van Der Paelt said.

Heisz agreed and said reaching emissions targets will require every member of the campus community to look at opportunities for efficiencies big and small.

“As a community of change-makers, the University is prepared to take bold steps to shape a more sustainable and environmentally responsible future,” she said.

Featured image: The installation of a new electric-steam turbine chiller in the Energy Conversion Centre advances the University toward its goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions. (University of Windsor)

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