University of Toronto

Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering

Sustainable Energy and the Environment

water trickling through shrubbery
U of T Engineering is at the forefront of the most pressing environmental issues today. The results of our research influence policy makers, institutions and publics to make informed decisions and bring change.

Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The damaging impact of coal use on the environment has led several parts of the world to seek more sustainable methods of electricity generation. The Ontario Government, for example, committed to eliminating the use of coal for electricity generation by 2014. Professor Heather MacLean in the Department of Civil Engineering recently found that replacing coal with wood pellets as a source of energy drastically reduces green house gas emissions by as much as 91 per cent. To read the full article, please click here.

Solar Energy Heats U of T Facility

In 2006, Engineering Science student, Ashley Taylor, evaluated the feasibility of installing solar collector panels at the University of Toronto's Athletic Centre in an effort to make the building more environmentally friendly throughout the year. Now employed by the University's sustainability office, Taylor helped the Centre to install 100 solar collector panels on the roof of the building, making it the largest solar panel project in the Greater Toronto Area. The panels supply 25% of the heat for the building's showers and laundry facilities, substantially lowering natural gas use and greenhouse gas emissions.  

Better Air Quality

Led by Professor Greg Evans in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry, the Southern Ontario Centre for Atmospheric Aerosol Research (SOCAAR) is an interdisciplinary centre for the study of air quality with a focus on how aerosols impact human health and the environment. While the link between human health and poor air quality is generally understood, SOCAAR addresses significant uncertainties associated with urban air such as the composition of urban particulate matter, the role of large urban areas as a source of particulate matter and its impact on climate and cloud formation. Using a new generation of technology and equipment such as an Aerosol Time-of-Flight Laser Mass Spectrometer (ATOFMS), SOCAAR is the only centre in the world with such a wide range of research capabilities. In addition to furthering our understanding of urban air, SOCAAR’s findings will help to mold public policy, guidelines and regulations for air quality in Canada.

Sustainable Air Travel

As the demand for air travel increases worldwide, there is an urgent need to make travel by aircraft a more sustainable means of transportation. Led by Professor David Zingg, the Computational Aerodynamics Group at the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies (UTIAS) is currently investigating the role of aerodynamic optimization in designing and evaluating new concepts and configurations for ultra-low drag aircraft. With strong ties to industry (Bombardier Aerospace, Pratt & Whitney Canada and NASA Ames Research Centre), the Group’s main goal is to apply advanced algorithms for numerical aerodynamic optimization to the design and development of the next generation of aircraft with greatly reduced greenhouse gas emissions per passenger-km.

Low Energy Housing

Addressing environmental problems and moving toward a more sustainable future involves complex engineering, scientific, economic, social, political and legal factors. The Division of Environmental Engineering within the Department of Civil Engineering is committed to research that will help bring many aspects of the urban environment to a more sustainable level. For example, Professor Kim Pressnail is developing sustainable infrastructure that not only improves building performance, but also lessens the environmental impact of our homes. These advanced homes hold the promise of providing affordable housing that makes more efficient use of our timber resources while also reducing the amount of energy needed to heat and cool our homes. Professor Pressnail was honoured with the CMHC Excellence in Education Award for the Promotion of Sustainable Practices by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation recently for integrating sustainable concepts in housing and community development into academic curriculum. To read the full article, please click here.
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