This article examines developments in the use of solar energy as an alternative energy source in large buildings, examining in particular actions being taken by Toronto-Dominion Bank and Concordia University.

Getting Started

Appropriate Subject Area(s):

Environmental studies, technology, world issues

Key Questions to Explore:

  • What is happening in the development of renewable energy sources?
  • How is solar power being incorporated in new construction?
  • What are some sources of renewable energy?
  • How viable are these sources?

New Terminology:

BIPV – “building integrated” photovoltaic solar panels

Materials Needed:

Access to the Internet for student research.

Study and Discussion Activity

Introduction to lesson and task:

Pipelines, pipelines, pipelines!!! There’s more to life than pipelines – or at least there had better be if you follow what environmentalists are saying. Recently, all the attention devoted to energy resources has been focused on pipelines as the Northern Gateway proposal proceeds and the debate about approval of the Keystone XL pipeline continues unabated. But what of other sources of energy? What has been happening in the field of renewable energy sources while all the focus has been on pipelines and their promotion of the use of fossil fuels? This lesson will direct the attention of the students away from pipelines and focus on developments in alternative renewable energy sources.

Action (lesson plan and task):

  • Ask the students to identify what comes to mind when they are asked to identify the hot topic in energy resources.
  • Unless there is a specific local issue that dictates otherwise the most prevalent answer will be crude oil and the pipeline issue.
  • Ask them why this is currently the hot topic.
  • Focus the discussion on the pending decisions regarding the Northern Gateway and Keystone XL proposals and their reinforcement of our reliance on fossil fuels.
  • With this as background, ask the students to identify other sources of energy and ask them specifically to think of renewable energy sources.
  • Have them now offer any information they may have on developments in any of these areas.
  • Inform them that various companies are starting to utilize these resources, not only because they offer a way of eventually reducing energy costs but also help to profile their companies as good corporate citizens who are interested in helping the environment.
  • Provide the students with a copy of the article and allow them time to read it.
  • Get their reactions to what they have just read.
  • Ask the students to identify other sources of renewable energy.
  • With this list completed, divide the class into enough groups so that each group will have one resource to research and assign them the following questions to answer:
    • What is happening in the development of your energy resource that will help it become more mainstream and a viable source of renewable energy?
    • Why is this important?
    • What government initiatives (both provincial and federal) are there to assist in the development of this resource?

Consolidation of Learning:

Have the groups report their findings to the class and hold a brief discussion after each presentation for clarification and validation.

Success and Additional Learning

Success Criteria:

  • The students will be able to identify various sources of renewable energy.
  • The students will be able to explain some developments in the renewable energy sector.
  • The students will demonstrate an understanding of the value of renewable energy sources.

Confirming Activity:

For homework (to be handed in for evaluation) ask the students to complete the following assignment:

“I believe that the government should (should not) be supporting the development of renewable energy sources and that its actions to date are (are not) appropriate in this area.” Be specific and give examples to support your statements.