#1 in MUSH!

We’ve often joked about acronym bingo, what with all the BRBs, IMOs and OMGs, but have you heard of MUSH? Not the bowl full in Goodnight Moon, but Municipalities, Universities, Schools and Hospitals … that MUSH.

Turns out this is a pretty important category when it comes to energy, since we are large and use a lot. So if and when we do things to use less, it really counts across Toronto, Ontario, Canada and the world.

With that, the Energy Into Action Innovation Awards recognize these good deeds (and great projects like this, this, this, this and this). We are extremely proud to announce that UHN won #1 in the large MUSH category (technically, tied for #1 with the City of Mississauga, but who’s counting?).

2018-EnergyAward-Lisa and Mike

Mike and I clutch the shiny new award from Energy Into Action. Thanks so much to Jana for nominating us. (L-R) Natalie McLauchlin (Alectra), Lisa Vanlint (UHN), Mike Kurz (UHN), Jana Jedlovska (Toronto Hydro), Michael Marchant (Toronto Hydro).

2018 award

ready for a close up

This wasn’t just an awards presentation, it was an opportunity to learn, mix and mingle with all people and things energy conserving. As it took place the day before Halloween, there were plenty of costumes and candy.


Rockin’ the Lobster look

If you missed it, we got your back. You can find all of the presentations online. I particularly liked Paul Leitch’s take on energy efficiency amid changing government policy, showcasing the great GHG-busting work at University of Toronto.

Another favorite was Cara Clairman’s presentation on electric vehicle charging in condos and workplaces (EV, for more acronym bingo). We know that the switch from gas guzzlers to electric cars has already begun, though it could pick up the pace a little. Expanding charging stations takes care of a major barrier … range anxiety.

The other bigger barrier is knowledge. People don’t always get that the EV’s fewer moving parts means way less maintenance costs. Between that and saving on gas, that’s about 2K/year. Pretty good, even without government incentives. And if you want to drive without Global Warming Guilt (GWG) or Green House Gas Guilt (GHGG), EV’s are it. You can test drive them at Plug n Drive.

pic-moving parts

EV’s fewer moving parts means way less maintenance costs. Between maintenance and gas savings, that 2 K less/year.

My son is 4 years from getting a learner’s permit. I hope by that time, EVs will overtake gas engines. That will make me breathe easier, though teaching him to drive will not :).



Links to some of the reasons why



Better than Candy, Operation Green’s Supplies Haul

Before we get going, a final shout for the Interhospital Waste Reduction Week Challenge. It’s neck-in-neck. If you work at UHN, Sinai, SickKids or Sunnybrook, give it a whirl before midnight on Friday, Nov 2. Play-Now-Button-Transparent-PNG

And now, back to our regularly scheduled program…

On the day after Halloween, most of us have had plenty of “fun-size” treats. What’s better than going door-to-door for candy? How about going unit-to-unit, collecting medical supplies to donate to communities in need? That’s what our fantastic team from Operation Green does every month.

Nicole and Meghan, the new Operation Green Leads, are both medical students who volunteer from their already packed schedules to coordinate and collect supplies. This year, they worked with our friends from UHN Volunteer Resources and Transportation Department to get the largest haul yet! Over 50 boxes of still good supplies will stay out of landfill and go around the world to where they are really needed.

Nicole and Meghan also signed up several more departments onto their monthly collection schedule. If you work at UHN and want to start your own collection box in your unit, contact operationgreen@uhn.ca. They can help you set up a box and tell you what’s needed (or scroll down to see the wish list).

Next collection dates: 

  • November 27th 2018
  • December 18th 2018
  • January 29th 2019
  • February 26th 2019
  • March 26th 2019
  • April 30th 2019
  • May 28th 2019

Here’s an idea of what they might need:


All 50 boxes have gone to Not Just Tourists, a great group that sends a suitcase of medical supplies with travelers already headed to these locations. By carrying an extra suitcase, these travelers become helpers, not just tourists (thus the name 🙂 ). You can help them pack bags, donate a suitcase, or volunteer to take a suitcase with you next time you travel. I’ve heard their packing parties are legendary!

Now isn’t that better than candy?

Putting The Habit In Habitat Protection since 1999 – Talkin’ Trash, October 2018

In the ever-changing mental list of “things good and bad” that most us keep, “tension” usually ends up on the not-so-good column…which is unfair because, in reality, there are many good things about tension.  Tension keeps bridges bridging,  and raindrops dropping…not to mention it’s what had you on the edge of your seat when Obi Wan Kenobi dueled Darth Vader as Luke and Co. tri to escape (yah, dating myself here), it kept you from going to the bathroom for all seven-minutes and forty-seconds of the 2010 Winter Olympics men’s hockey gold medal game overtime period, and it makes resolution of the slightly out-of-sync background rhythm and wandering time signatures in Coffee (of the Sylvan Esso, not the free-range organic soypuccino, kind) oh so satisfying.

Continue reading

Roses are Red, Polypropylene Sterilization Wrap is Blue

Roses are Red, Polypropylene Sterilization Wrap is Blue

Remember your 3 R’s from school? No, not Readin’, Ritin’ and Rithmatic :).

If you’ve been around the blog, you know that Reducin’, Reusin’ and Recyclin’ are listed in order of importance, with much bigger bangs for reduce and reuse. With that, I have a great story to share from our friends at the Radiation Therapy Green Team.

P.S. Stay tuned for next week’s interhospital competition for Waste Reduction Week.

the following excerpt is by Veng Chhin on the Therapost

This year the Waste Reduction Week is Oct. 15-21, 2018.

Waste Reduction and Recycling Weeks in Canada started in the mid-1980s with a focus on the environment and sustainability.  This principle can be practiced all year round!

Brachy and Gamma Knife teams are already practicing waste reduction on a daily basis.  Every day they are saving the blue sterilization wraps for recycling and repurposing.  The wraps are clean and have not come into contact with any contaminants.  They are made up of linen fiber and polypropylene materials and are very durable for repurposing.  For example, arts & crafts, drop sheets for painting, car seat covers for pets, can be sewn into multi-purpose bags, etc…

blue wrap bag

blue wrap makes for a great reusable bag!

This means less waste going into landfills, helping to keep our world cleaner, and improving sustainability. It’s a win-win!  If you want to give it a try, you are welcome to these wraps, which are saved in a cabinet located in Cobalt Lounge near the central recycling area.

blue wrap-patricia

Patricia demonstrates the many fashionable uses for blue wrap

Read the original story by Veng Chhin on the Therapost


I’se the B’y That Went to CHES

UHN had major representation at this year’s national CHES (Canadian Healthcare Engineering Society) conference, which was hosted in St. John’s Newfoundland (hence, the blog title). I was honoured to speak at the conference discussing some preliminary energy results of TGH’s new central cooling plant. I was lucky to share the stage with our former colleague, Chad Berndt, who was the mastermind behind the project. Chad is now working with the company that delivered the project, Enwave Energy Corp.



The presentation focused on the process of the project from initial data collection to approvals to design and construction to preliminary results. There was a heavy emphasis on data-based decision making as well as some of the key issues tackled by the new system, including:

  • Energy cost stabilization
  • Increased system capacity
  • Improved system reliability
  • Redundancy and resiliency of hospital cooling systems
  • Reduction in CO2 emissions
  • Simplification of building operation

Chiller Plant Renovation Project Process

You can read more about the technical information related to the project here. I would like to focus this blog on the huge energy and water savings that have been achieved. Check out the graphs below that show our utility consumption for our base case year, 2015, compared to data from summer 2018. On all three of the charts, you will notice a bump in May. There was an unusual heat wave very early in the year that required us to run chillers before the deep lake system was fully online. It is also important to point out that these charts are not weather corrected and, in fact, 2018 had 48% more cooling degree days compared to 2015. It follows that during a typical year, savings would be higher.

Electricity Peak Demand Savings:


Electricity Consumption Savings


Water Savings


These preliminary savings results suggest that the project is on the right track to outperforming the conservative estimates of $22M savings over the life of the project. I will post an update to the blog with final savings numbers upon the completion and approval of the final measurement and verification report.


What are people Saying?

The facilities operations team provided feedback on the project, including “the deep lake is rockin” and given the extreme heat, “the system really saved us this summer.” Even senior management took notice:


Celebrating GROW(th)

Hi everyone! My name is Nicolette and I am an Environmental Science student at the University of Toronto, and new Sustainability Intern at UHN.

As one of my first official tasks, I had the pleasure of representing the Energy & Environment Team at TRI-Bickle’s 2nd Annual Urban Agriculture Day last Friday. Home to one of UHN’s community gardens, Bickle’s GROW (Garden Rehab on Wheels) has custom height planters and wheelchair accessible paths that enables patients to participate in gardening as part of their rehabilitation. The group meets once a week, and together with dedicated volunteers and staff members, the patients are able to go outside and tend to the garden during the warmer months.

The end of the summer Corn Roast is chance for staff members and patients to come together to celebrate their hard work and enjoy the garden’s final few weeks. The event also welcomed patient families and community members to tour the garden and learn about the project.


Patients, staff, and volunteers enjoying the day’s festivities

This year, the event proved a huge success as the group managed to collect over $410 in donations! All donations will go toward the 2019 garden. Not only that, but GROW was recognized by the Toronto Urban Grower’s ‘Best in GrowTO’ competition, earning the award for Best Pollinator Patch and the Runner Up award for Best Container Garden.


Members of the Garden Group pose with their awards

This being my first time at Bickle and seeing the garden, I can’t help but marvel at the incredible sense of community the entire team shares. Everyone helped play a role in Friday’s festivities, as patients were tasked with shucking the corn and picking fresh herbs from the garden, while staff brought in supplies and cooked the delicious corn.

The event also featured a bake sale with plenty of treats using Bickle’s own garden-grown ingredients. Rhubarb oatmeal muffins, pepper and chive pita bread, and zucchini chocolate chip cookies, to name a few, all proved to be a huge hit (I would’ve taken a picture but ate mine too fast, oops). The contributions of everyone helped ensure the event ran smoothly and that everyone who stopped by had a wonderful time.


Patients and staff shuck away at the corn. Paula Cripps-McMartin gets the corn roasting!

A HUGE shoutout to Amanda Beales, a Registered Dietician and interprofessional Educator at Bickle! She runs the day-to-day garden operations and is the main organizer of this event. More shoutouts to the whole Bickle Garden team including (deep breath) Paula Cripps-McMartin, Dr. Ling, Susan, Fermina, Elzbieta, Fahreen, Nooshin, Pema, Elizabeth, Ann, Annette, Ana, Patricia, Gaby, Joe, Julia, Maria, Anthea, Lynda, Angela, Jackie, Deep and many more. Spending just a few short hours at Bickle has shown me how much patients and staff value the garden and its (many) benefits!

Thanks to everyone at Bickle for hosting me. I can’t wait to see what the 2019 season has in store for the Garden Group!


Can We Talk?

Can We Talk?

On this sweltering September day, with Florence and Mangkhut lashing their paths of destruction, I can’t help but think about the hot and steamy elephant in the room … climate change. The scary thing we all talked about “in the future” is here, clearly. There are so many ways I could do something about it, but sometimes I don’t know where to start.

I am not alone, and as luck would have it, neither are you.

We are incredibly psyched and proud to bring Carbon Conversations TO to UHN!


What’s it all about? Taking Climate Action this Fall

If you feel overwhelmed, stressed and unable to take action when you think about climate change, Carbon Conversations TO gets it. They are here to help.

We have asked Carbon Conversations TO to host a weekly series of 2 hour conversations, 6 sessions in total. This will give us the tools, support and motivation so we can take action in our own way. Even better, they’ll do taster sessions so we can sample it before committing to 6 weeks. light refreshments to be served. 

Get a taste of what we’re all about. Join our interactive information session.

Pick either time that works for you…

  1. (new!) Thurs, Sep 27: 4:30 – 6 pm, Toronto General Hospital, Wellness Centre 1NU168
  2. Thurs, Sep 27: 6 – 7:30 pm, Toronto General Hospital, Wellness Centre 1NU168


Interested in joining the Fall series? (I know I am). The sessions will run Thursday evenings, October 25  – Nov 29, 4:30 – 6:30 PM, Wellness Centre at TGH. Though the taster sessions are free, the 6-week program costs a nominal fee of $60. The small fee ($10/session) will not only cover costs, it helps ensure people attend :).

Light refreshments to be served

Can’t wait to chat with you soon!

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Questions? Reach out to the Carbon Conversations TO team.