Toronto should become a leader in retrofitting public buildings with solar panels to encourage greater use of renewable energy sources.
Pros: Increased energy savings, boost to local green economy, municipal leadership on major green energy reductions.
Cons: High upfront costs of installation, seen as ‘unnecessary’ spending during times of financial cutbacks, and arguments that Toronto’s climate is not well suited for a expansive solar program using current photovoltaic technology.
Toronto should lead by example in promoting renewable energy and securing our path to a sustainable future by installing, where possible, solar panels on civic buildings. By linking the panels directly into the grid, the City can take a bold step to reduce municipal energy consumption and provide leadership on taking renewal energy seriously. Building upon the success of provincial green energy policies and the progressive policies already adopted by the City, such as the green roof bylaw and work of the City’s environment office, installing solar panels on civic buildings will send the signal that Toronto takes climate change and renewal energy seriously.
A residential program designed to streamline approvals and reduce financial barriers for installing solar panels on single-family homes, condos, and apartment towers could accompany the civic solar program. Partnerships with local universities, advanced manufacturers, and environmental organizations could leverage the city’s existing assets and provide financial and political support for renewable technology.
Image credit: Adam Gimpert, Flickr creative commons