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Emissions reduction

Memorial’s carbon footprint is about to get much smaller

By Sandy Woolfrey-Fahey

Memorial is taking a giant step forward toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the university’s carbon footprint.

Joint federal and provincial government funding, announced today, will replace a fuel-fired steam boiler with two electric-powered steam boilers in Memorial’s utilities annex.

The project is equally cost-shared with funding totalling just over $10.5 million.

“As a university, we often speak to Memorial’s value and impact from an educational perspective,” said President Vianne Timmons. “Today we speak to our impact to reduce our carbon footprint. We have a global responsibility to mitigate our environmental impact.”

Electrification within the utilities annex will shift buildings from primarily oil-fueled heating systems to systems primarily powered by clean electricity from the province’s vastly renewable hydroelectric grid.

The words "10.5M litres of fuel saved" are in green and black on an illustration of trees and a clock tower.

The benefits of electrification of the boilers means anticipated reduction in fuel consumption in the ballpark of 10.5 million litres of fuel each year. That is a reduction by 80–85 per cent.

To put that in a relatable number, the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions through this switch is equivalent to removing 6,200 cars off our roads, and reducing emissions by nearly 30,000 tons.

The words "Equivalent to 6,200 cars off the road" are in green and black on an illustration of trees and a clock tower.

The generated hot water from the boilers heats some 60 buildings on the St. John’s campus, including the Core Science Facility, the Health Sciences Centre (HSC) complex and the National Research Council and generates steam used for humidification and sterilization at the HSC and domestic hot water.

Beyond the environmental benefits of using green energy, the future costs of electricity are anticipated to be reasonably predictable as opposed to the fluctuating price of fuel oil.

This project will allow the university to better predict future energy costs.

Have a look inside the utilities annex in the video below.

Culture of sustainability

This announcement builds on Memorial’s efforts toward more sustainable operations.

The university established the Sustainability and Climate Change Office to help the university advance a sustainability culture.

Additionally, since 2009 Memorial initiated two major energy performance contracts with Honeywell with combined contracts totalling more than $41 million, which are fully guaranteed and self-funded through energy savings and have reduced greenhouse gas emissions comparable to removing more than 1,800 cars from the road.

Memorial is committed to using resources in a sustainable and responsible way and environmental stewardship is a huge part.

A group of masked people stand in front of flags in stands and a screen with the N.L. provincial logo on it is to the left.
From left are Jennifer Williams, Tom Osborne, Seamus O’Regan, Jr., Premier Andrew Furey, President Vianne Timmons and Bernard Davis.
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

“This electrification project will have a significant impact on the reduction of greenhouse gas emission in our province,” said Premier Andrew Furey. “Climate change is impacting our province, our country and the entire globe and we all need to play a part in addressing the impacts of this worldwide reality. Projects such as the one at Memorial will help us along the path to achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.”

The funding is through Newfoundland and Labrador’s Climate Change Challenge Fund, which is a competitive grant-based program to fund greenhouse gas reduction projects.

The Department of Environment and Climate Change, in partnership with Environment and Climate Change Canada, is responsible for implementing programs from the Low Carbon Economy Leadership Fund agreement.

“Replacing boilers on Memorial University’s St. John’s campus is a simple step towards reducing our local greenhouse gas emissions, by 28,000 tonnes,” said Seamus O’Regan, Jr., minister, Labour, and member of Parliament, St. John’s South–Mount Pearl. “By partnering with Memorial and the province, we’re lowering emissions and building Canada’s renewable energy future.”

“We are grateful to our provincial and federal government partners for this funding to move this important project forward and I look forward to seeing it’s completion,” said Dr. Timmons.

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