Faces of Sustainability: Tim Connelly

One-on-one time with sustainability leaders on the St. George campus!

Tim Connelly is the Director of Facilities Services at Trinity College. His work is devoted to maintaining the buildings and managing the utilities at Trinity, doing so sustainably.


How do you define sustainability?

Sustainability isn’t just about implementing new technologies– sustainability is about changing behaviour. In order for an initiative to be truly sustainable, it must address the root cause of an issue and encourage others to modify their behaviour. While I can make changes by implementing new technologies and systems at Trinity, ultimately it must carry on without my participation alone.

How did you get started in environmental work, and how long have you been interested in it?

Throughout my career, sustainability was a component that I felt was consistently overlooked by many of my colleagues, yet I felt it was something I could control and worth managing. Over the past 30 years society has changed drastically with respect to views on energy conservation. Sustainability has become much more of a priority giving me the opportunity and freedom to invest resources in sustainable projects.

What do you do on campus related to the environment/sustainability?

In my role as Director of Facilities Services, I maintain the buildings at Trinity College, am responsible for the various building equipment, and manage the utilities. Managing these areas presents opportunities for more sustainable operations, specifically with the utilities side of things. Simple changes, often overlooked, can achieve huge savings over time. When capital project money is available I’m always looking at equipment renewal: high-efficiency boilers, magnetic chillers, cooling towers, and lighting come to mind.

What have been your greatest environmental successes? Challenges?

I would say that I have had two major environmental successes in my time at Trinity. The first without question would be our success with the Solar Panel project on the Larkin Building – all parties involved really came together to make a project of this scale happen. The second major success would have to be the construction of the Green Roof on top of St. Hilda’s, and though much less technical than the Solar Panel initiative, it engaged the students and ended up being a really fun project all around.

The biggest challenge I face is in dealing with the age of our buildings. Working with such old buildings and infrastructure means that we don’t have the same resources available to us as those working in newer buildings. We are constantly trying to strike a balance between maintaining the heritage of the building itself, and being sustainably progressive.

What exciting environmental opportunities lie ahead for you in your work?

I believe there are great opportunities in new water technologies, specifically in introducing the use of solar heating for water. I also want to focus on facilitating a lasting connection between sustainability and students, because students determine the culture, and the usage of the utilities we are trying to conserve.

What’s the biggest challenge facing U of T students, staff, and faculty that prevents our campus from becoming more sustainable?

I believe water usage is the biggest challenge to campus sustainability. It is such an important issue because we use such large volumes of water, yet we often fail to use it wisely - especially given that we are running out of it. In dealing with this issue I believe that changing behaviour is the most important thing, and while this can sometimes be the hardest thing to do, it is critical if we want to see meaningful change.

What’s your favorite environmental hobby or activity away from work?

Definitely skiing! I just love the adventure and sense of freedom you experience while doing it. It is also a great way to spend time with family, and travel all over the world as well.

Who are your eco-heroes?

David Suzuki has always impressed me, even at a young age – he is someone that has always engaged and challenged me with his interesting perspective and twist on conventional topics. He comes up with such simple truths about environmental issues that I would never have thought of.

Contact Info:
Tim Connelly