Energy has become an integral part of our path to sustainability because so much of our energy is derived from fossil fuels and depletable sources. Reducing our reliance on these non-renewable sources by reducing our energy usage and increasing our efficiency are key drivers of the energy management process at the University of Guelph. In addition, reducing energy consumption leads to less pollution, and is one of the most cost-effective and efficient ways of developing a sustainable energy system.
Energy is used on campus to heat, cool and power our campus buildings and their internal systems. The majority of campus buildings are heated via steam produced from burning natural gas in the Central Utilities Plant. Cooling, or air conditioning, is done via chilling water in the CUP. Electricity is also used for many applications on campus, some familiar and some more institutional. Water is also considered part of our energy system, due to the close ties with the above methods and its inclusion as a chargeable utility.
The university's carbon footprint is largely dependent on the campus energy systems, although waste, food and transportation also add to it. More details about our impacts are found in the performance section, but roughly speaking, the university uses the same amount of energy as two medium-sized Ontario towns, like Cobourg or Pembroke.