By Alfea Donato
Although Ryerson has made vast urban renovations, renewable energy has been left in the dark.
Recently, alternative renewable energy sources have become popular, with many universities embracing the sustainable and economical benefits of solar energy.
EarthTechling reports that a Californian private, non-profit college has installed over 3,000 solar panels at two of its campuses. Located in San Diego, National University expects to generate enough electricity to power almost 130 American homes annually and save more than $1.6 million over the next 20 years.
Closer to home, the University of Waterloo’s environmental department reports that it has finished installing solar panels on one of its buildings.
It is expected to generate 11 per cent of the building’s electricity, approximately enough to power seven Canadian homes. Ryerson President Sheldon Levy has shown support for the installations, and says that Ryerson has considered the possibility of using rooftops for solar projects.
“We are looking into all of those features where you can, but it certainly is a lot easier on buildings where you can [utilize] the roof,” said Levy. “You don’t have to restrict it to new buildings. If you look at the amount of roof space open on Kerr Hall, there’s the chance that one could implement that strategy on existing buildings.”
First-year urban and regional planning student Priynka Bagchi is in favour of the idea.
“It should be on newer buildings,” she said. “They should figure something out.”
However numerous issues have been raised about the installation process.
Robert Hellier, manager of the Centre for Urban Energy, has noted that retrofitting existing buildings would involve penetrating the roofs’ waterproofing membranes, therefore nulling the buildings’ roof warranties.
“It’s a major issue in the industry right now,” Hellier said.
Hellier also raises valid concerns about assessing the buildings beforehand, shading and surface-area problems, possible clashes with the local utilities and the Ontario Power Authority and an impending rate change by the Ontario government.
“It is feasible, but there is a number of technical and regulatory issues,” he said.