Saskatoon's Harry Bailey Aquatic Centre and its Lawson Civic Centre are getting rooftop solar panels as part of an ambitious project to cut carbon emissions.

The city says it plans to install more than 150 solar panels on the two facilities to heat the pools, and hopes to have them up and running by the end of the year.

Federal and provincial grants will cover half of the $450,000 project, with the city picking up the other half.

Saskatoon's environmental programs manager, Colleen Yates, says savings from the conversion — about $23,000 a year — will pay for the project in a decade.

While the city is assessing all of its buildings for conversion, Harry Bailey and Lawson were obvious choices because of the amount of light they capture, said Yates.

"Really what you want with any solar system is you want really good southern exposure," she said.

The solar panels are filled with glycol — a liquid similar to antifreeze — that is warmed by the sun. The heated liquid then passes over metal panels, heating the pool water.

"The liquid in there can get up to several hundred degrees, so we are actually able to transfer a lot of heat on a sunny day, even in the winter," Yates explained.

Saskatoon's Light and Power building boasts a similar solar heating project.