The WET system at Toronto Western Hospital will take energy from raw municipal wastewater flowing through a nearby sewer to heat and cool the hospital. (Graphic: Noventa Energy)

Toronto Western Hospital (TWH) and Krembil Discovery Tower will soon be home to the world's largest raw wastewater energy transfer (WET) system, reducing the site's carbon emissions by a quarter of a million tonnes over the next 30 years.

Renewable energy company Noventa Energy, the Government of Canada, City of Toronto, UHN and Vancity Community Investment Bank (VCIB), were part of a virtual event Friday announcing the project.

The WET System will use thermal energy from wastewater flowing through a nearby municipal sewer to supply up to 90 percent of the campus' heating and cooling needs, significantly reducing use of existing electric and natural gas systems. As a result, the site's direct greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by about 10,000 metric tonnes each year – more than 60 per cent of UHN's overall direct emissions and the equivalent of removing 1,811 cars from the road.

"We know climate change is a major threat to health," UHN President & CEO Dr. Kevin Smith said in a statement. "This technology will allow us to lower greenhouse gas emissions and make our hospitals more resilient, while supporting our commitment to delivering A Healthier World."

Noventa CEO Dennis Fotinos said WET systems like the one at TWH can "help us meet our climate change commitments." Construction is slated to begin in September.

"This project is a testament to what we can do if we are prepared to challenge convention and reimagine energy to build a more sustainable future for all," he said.

More than 300 energy projects over the past decade

According to Ron Swail, UHN's Vice President of Facilities Management – Planning, Redevelopment & Operations, the project is a "natural fit" for the organization.

"We have a strong culture of sustainability, thanks to the tremendous efforts of our Energy & Environment Department, who have helped us become a top energy performer among our peers," he said. "Over the past decade, the team has completed more than 300 energy projects, which has already reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 25 per cent.

"We're excited to add the WET system to the roster."

Funding for the project has been secured by both public and private sectors, including Noventa Energy, VCIB and the Government of Canada.

"The Government of Canada is pleased to support innovative projects that reduce emissions and create good jobs," said Marci Ien, MP for Toronto Centre. "It's leadership and good projects like the one announced today that will help Canada exceed its 2030 Paris Agreement target and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050."

Toronto Mayor John Tory added that the City is "delighted to support the delivery of the world's largest raw wastewater energy transfer project in downtown Toronto.

"We need to welcome innovative projects and breakthrough climate technologies – like the project at Toronto Western Hospital – to our city."

Not only will the WET system lower greenhouse gas emissions, but it will also further UHN's substantial research focus, as it will provide easy access to waste water samples. This will open up a variety of potential health research opportunities, including anti-microbial resistance and pandemic monitoring.

For more information on UHN's Energy & Environment initiatives, visit the department's blog Talkin' Trash.

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