ASHRAE at the Heart of Ontario’s Power System – IESO Tour


A group of SEBT were recently given the opportunity to visit the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) in Mississauga. The IESO is described as the heart of Ontario’s power system with the important mission of balancing the supply and demand for electricity in Ontario.

Kate and her colleague Paul, who generously took the time to meet with us, provided us with an informative presentation on IESO operations. IESO and OPA is going through a merger starting next year and this will likely bring on a number of changes. During the presentation, we were situated in a conference room overlooking the control room. At the end of the presentation, Paul called down to give the go-ahead on opening the curtain. Of course, all students were fascinated by what was displayed below.

The importance of IESO is emphasized when looking into the heart of the operation. In the control room there are system operators that go through months of extensive training in simulators before they take off the training wheels and go live. Each operator has ten monitors with constantly updating information. In addition to that, a wall of monitors supply any other information needed. They display weather conditions for predicting renewable energies, news channels that are used to forecast behavior and energy consumption, as well as constantly updating information on power generators in Ontario and adjacent provinces and states. There is a tremendous amount of live data on current demand and production of any large generator connected to the grid.

Former systems operator Paul’s refers to the control room as the air traffic center of electricity. He describes his work experience in the control room “like playing a big videogame” and encourages all interested students to apply for summer jobs with IESO. He mentions that if you have a sharp mind then it might be you in that control room one day.

We soon made our way to look at the HVAC equipment and part of the power supply. The IESO has an enormous backup battery system and diesel generators in the case of a power failure. This ensures that even in the most critical hour, IESO should still have a constant supply of electricity to help balance the power of Ontario.

The students left in awe of what they had seen and with new gained respect for the forces at work to keep our lights on. If you are interested in more opportunities like this one, then get involved or stay involved with the ASHRAE Humber College Student Branch.

Written by Emilia Lundh


TTC Gunn Building Technical Tour – Nov. 27, 2013

On November 26th a group of ASHRAE students were given the opportunity to tour the mechanical systems behind the Toronto Transit Control Centre. This tour was held at the David L. Gunn Building in the Hillcrest Complex given by Claudio Bertoldi, a veteran in HVAC systems for TTC facilities.

Part of Claudio’s responsibility is monitoring and controlling the settings of each facilities system. A building automatic program allows him to see schematics of the inner workings of each mechanical system and it will alert him with any malfunctions. Through this program he is easily able to identify and compare which parts are efficient. For instance, Claudio quickly recognized that “efficient” automatic air duct fans which turn on/off depending on demand broke down often, and tended to have trouble turning on/off at the right times. With Toronto transit replying on its facilities to be working these small failures can have a large impact.

Pic 1

Above – UPS batter back-up

After seeing the schematics of the TTC facilities we were given a walking tour of the building. The building is equipped with an emergency power supply that will immediately start with any outage. It is capable of uninterrupted power through a battery bank and a diesel generator back up. The server room was massive with cables running everywhere, and it required dedicated chillers and an under floor supply plenum. This one building had two air handlers, one on each level. The boiler room was decorated with colour coded water pipes; purple for domestic hot water. This building is also responsible for carrying the emergency power back up for other TTC facilities.

 Pic 2

Above – Server room under-floor supply plenum

The most interesting part of the tour was seeing the Transit Control Centre which has a panel of enormous screens lined up along an entire wall, displaying live footage of subway carts, surveillance videos, maintenance at a station and so much more. Directly in front of these screens are the many men and women that are continuously working to keep the city’s transit system moving. In order them to be able to do their work all mechanical systems in the building must be fully functional.

Special thanks to Claudio Bertoldi and the TTC for the wonderful tour!

Pic 3

Group photo with the old Transit Control board




F.E.S.T.I. Tour

The first tour of the year was Awesome!

F.E.S.T.I. – Fire Emergency Services Training Institute – Is an 8 year old building that functions as a training facility for fire fighters around the world. With state of the art technology perfectly engineered to work with the HVAC system, there was a lot to see and a lot to be impressed by.



The front right sloped part of the wall shown above is a solar wall that heats the air behind it and through simple convection, feeds into the outdoor air of the HVAC system.  This lowers the delta T (temperature) for the system, and reduces the overall energy needed to heat the conditioned space.

The white tower like structures are:

  • Left – stairwell using free lighting through opaque R-20 fibreglass wall.

  • Right – a solar chimney that helps move excess warm air at ground level into the HVAC system.

The ceiling in the building was designed using Thermodeck. This concrete prefabrication has connecting holes in it that allow the conditioned air to flow through it to the desired (and controlled) spaces. While doing so, it heats the floor and ceiling (which warms that area as well) and once it gets to its destination, flows into desired rooms like regular ductwork.


This picture shows the regular ducts work bringing the conditioned air to the specific Thermodeck where it works it way through a network of engineered holes covering the largest surface area possible, then being released into the space.

Because of the thermal efficiency of the building, the size of the boilers needed for this 36,000 sqft space is very small. They are also able to run the entire hot water heating system off of these instant hot water heaters (they have a high need for showers due to the fire training). These hot water heaters will only run when there is demand for them to, and rarely reach the maximum design output of having all five running (the farthest to the right is the controller).  They sequence between the five of them to create desired water temperatures using Natural Gas as their energy source.



Something that was integrated into the building design was a very neat floating stair system.  It works based on balancing the weight of the concrete stairs with an overhanging deck, where study areas are.


Two days were offered for the tours. Each group had a great time and learnt quite a bit too!

Thanks for participating! We hope to see more of you at our next event!

Feel free to email us at with any tour, events or speaker ideas.


ASHRAE Toronto Chapter Meeting & Student Night – Oct 7, 2013 – Ryerson Mattamy Athletic Centre

Maple Leaf Gardens

The new Athletic Centre opened September 6 2012 after being closed in 1999 after the last Maple Leaf Hockey game of the season. It has now been renovated and split up into many uses. A large Loblaws takes up most of the main floor, a LCBO on the second, and the larger part of the remaining multiple stories is divided by the Ryerson Mattamy Athletic Centre which includes an full sized ice rink, gym, running track as well as lecture halls and classrooms for Ryerson University.

Two tours were offered on Monday evening, one at 4 and another at 5. Here we were privileged to see the new technology added to the old building which included:

  • A large size heat exchanger, roughly 7 feet tall (as seen below)

MPG Heat Exchanger

  • Two massive chillers with touch screen display (as seen below)

MPG Chiller touchscreen

  • Six large boilers
  • And a great venue for the guest speaker – Gary Berlin of Pennsylvania a specialist in Relative Humidity relating to human comfort levels.

MPG conference hall

I hope that the event on November 4th will have a stronger Humber presence and I look forward to seeing many of you signing up for our school tour of F.E.S.T.I (Fire & Emergency Services Training Institute) scheduled for October 22nd and 23rd.

Registration information will be emailed to you soon!