Hey SickKids, UHN & Sinai Health Systems! The WRW Interhospital Challenge is On!


Time to throw down the reusable/recyclable gauntlet … October 17-23 marks Waste Reduction Week (WRW) across Canada! This year, we challenge ourselves and our fellow healthcare institutions to play the WRW Interhospital Challenge. Yes I’m looking at you, SickKids, Sinai Health System and of course, University Health Network … may the best institution win! And all you have to do is play the game.


And, if you’ve already played, a giant THANK YOU! Continue reading

Show Me The (Waste Of) Money – Talkin’ Trash, October 2016

First A Contest

In celebration of Waste Reduction Week, which runs from October 17-23 this year, UHN has challenged the SickKids and Sinai Health Systems to an Interhospital Challenge – take the quick quiz before October 30 and help your hospital prove it’s a waste reduction champion.

And Now Back To Our Regularly Scheduled Blog

Money talks.  Sure, we don’t always listen to it, and sometimes even when we do pay attention, we don’t really understand what it’s saying…but undoubtedly, the murmur of money is all around us.


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Chiller Thriller: Part 2


Chiller Thriller

With the last moments of warm weather dwindling and Halloween fast approaching, let’s take a look at the performance of our new Lyndhurst chiller plant over the course of an extremely hot summer. For the background info on the project, check out the Chiller Thriller Part 1 blog post. Part 2 will focus on the savings achieved and how we measured them; or, in fancier terms, our monitoring and verification (M&V) process.

I’ll start off with the AWESOME RESULTS before putting you to sleep with the nitty gritty details.


Check out those savings numbers – peak demand reduction of almost 50%, and energy consumption reduction of over 80%!! Annual cost savings of over $60,000!! Toronto Hydro has been a valuable partner for many of our electricity saving projects and this one is no exception – based on the demand reduction of 139.8kW peak, UHN has been approved for an incentive of $111,840. The rest of this blog will show how we got to these numbers.

Chillers, pump motors, and fan motors are all electric devices, so the M&V plan is entirely focused on electricity savings. The performance of the original plant was measured using a portable energy meter. The chiller performance was measured and logged over a period of one month to evaluate the range of operating conditions. The old pumps and fans were spot measured because they were running at constant speed and, therefore, their electricity consumption was fairly continuous.

The new plant has variable frequency drives (VFDs) on the chiller, pumps, and fans. The VFDs have built-in capability to report power consumption and we have these outputs connected and tracked on our building automation system. I collected all of this data from the original plant and the new plant, along with the outside air conditions, and developed a performance profile for each system according to the outside air conditions.


Interesting to note that the old plant used to run in the 10-15 Celsius range, but we have found the new plant doesn’t need to run in this range. This may be due to the fact that the new magnetic bearing chiller has no friction in the compressor and therefore no heat generation requiring cooling. The old chiller may have been running at these temperatures just to cool itself when it didn’t actually need to be running with low cooling demand in the building.

Based on historical weather data, we know how many hours occur in each of these bands on average, so we can calculate the total energy used over the course of the year. This gives us an apples to apples comparison that takes into account the effects of changing weather year over year. The savings have been so great that they clearly show up on our utility bills despite this summer being way hotter than last year. Check out the chart below!


The peak demand reduction calculation was much simpler. Using the same data, I targeted the three peak (i.e. the hottest and most humid) hours occurring during regular building occupancy for both the pre- and post-retrofit cases. The measured demand of the major plant equipment during the three peak hours was averaged to give an accurate picture of the average peak demand before and after the project.

Here’s our nice new plant as seen on our building automation system:bas-1

Next year, we should see even more savings because we are modifying the air handling unit cooling coil valves so that they operate more efficiently. The current operation uses a valve that bypasses water back to the chiller when demand is lower, but we are planning to get rid of the bypass lines so that the total flow is reduced when demand drops. This change will enable the chilled water pump to modulate its speed lower and further reduce electricity consumption. The chiller should also run slightly more efficiently because the water coming back from the AHUs will be warmer; the chiller operates more effectively at higher temperature differential.

A similarly exciting project is coming up this winter at Bickle and I look forward to reporting on that one as well. Thanks to the following for all their work on the Lyndhurst project: Angelo Suntres from UHN, Richard Rollox and staff at LC, Mark Baniuk from HH Angus, Andrew Peeters from the contractor Geo A Kelson, and Toronto Hydro for their support of the project.

Stopping To Smell The (Energy Saving) Roses – An Operation TLC Celebration

When it comes to saving energy, it’s easy to get so focused on how far we need to go to meet our targets and goals that we forget to take a look back to see how far we’ve come.  Case in point – this past April, UHN set new, aggressive energy saving targets, replacing our original, aggressive energy saving targets that we hadn’t fully met.  And I was so intent in figuring out how well we were doing against our new targets that it wasn’t until last month that I realized that, albeit 6 months later than we’d planned..

We’re meeting our original energy consumption saving target!

This is something all at UHN should celebrate – it truly is a team effort in every sense of the word.  So, before we return to new targets and projects, take the time to pat yourself on the back and reflect for a moment, not on where we’re going, but how far we’ve come…we’ve done something good!

UHN's Golden Lightswitch Award for energy excellence.

UHN’s Golden Lightswitch Award for energy excellence.

One nurse’s story on saving supplies and lives

As you know from last weeks’ post, See It Shine … around the world, one of our favorite kinds of reuse is getting surplus medical supplies to global communities in need. Not only does it help humanitarian efforts, it also helps the environment, diverting materials from landfill (and the landfill fees that are better spent on patient care). That’s a win-win-win in anyone’s book.

UHN News has just profiled Ruth Turner, a nurse at Princess Margaret who volunteers her time to do just that.

Ruth Turner

Ruth Turner holds a bag of medical supplies to donate to Not Just Tourists. As she spreads the word to other colleagues at the cancer centre, bags like these are often left outside her door from groups that have begun collecting. (Photo: Not Just Tourists)

Here’s an except of her story FINDING A NEW HOME FOR UNUSED MEDICAL SUPPLIES (by Danielle Pereira):

Ruth has been volunteering with NJT for a decade and in that time her colleagues and other staff around the cancer centre have heard about the initiative and will leave bags and boxes outside of her office.


“These are not UHN supplies,” she explains. “These are supplies sent to the clinical trials group that we can’t use, or pre-packaged kits for certain procedures that have just expired that we’re not allowed to use and can’t return.”


Drug companies often send many kits to draw samples they want for their trial. Kits contain everything necessary to draw a sample from a patient – blood tubes, bandages, and needles.


“Sometimes one tube in the whole box could expire, so the whole box would have to be thrown out,” Ruth says. “Sometimes the needles used to draw the blood are not UHN approved so we can’t use them, or we don’t need the one they’re sending us, but it’s already nicely sealed and sterile.”


…Ruth says her experience as a volunteer helps her maintain a sense of perspective on what we take for granted.

Click here to read the whole story!

(it’s worth the click)

Along with Ruth, Operation Green also collects these materials at all UHN sites for charitable groups including Not Just Tourists. If your department has surplus medical supplies, contact operationgreen@uhn.ca.

email OperationGreen@uhn.ca if you have any of these things

email OperationGreen@uhn.ca if you have any of these things


Operation Green 2016-17 Team! (L-R) Amy Chan, Kiyoka Sasaki, Tina Wang, Jessica He, (not in photo, Evelyn Waugh)

Operation Green 2016-17 Team! (L-R) Amy Chan, Kiyoka Sasaki, Tina Wang, Jessica He, (not in photo, Evelyn Waugh)

See It Shine … around the world

Spring and fall … perfect times to take stock and tidy up. As we trade t-shirts and flipflops for scarves and sweaters, some bits might not seem up for the trip. Is it time to find them a new home? (one that could really use them?)

image credit centennialarts.com

image credit: whiskeyriff.com

image credits: whiskeyriff.com and centenial arts.com


We have a work-wide version of that same concept. It’s the See It Shine team contest, and it’s on now till November 4th! The idea is that staff form teams to straighten up their spaces, take before and after pics, and maybe win some excellent gift certificates. They organize what they need and send the rest for reuse (best!), recycling (great!) or trash (not so great).

This year, we challenge our clinical colleagues to find SURPLUS MED SUPPLIES!

(Then it can be even more “S’s”)



Operation Green, a great group run by volunteer med students, salvages still-good-but-for-whatever-reason-we-can’t-use-’em medical supplies. Not only do they keep the supplies out of landfill (or worse…the incinerator), they ship to developing countries that hardly have two tongue depressors to rub together. Now these communities have access to clean gloves & gowns, dressings & defibrillators (it may be last-year’s model, but it’s still good). We save the hauling fee by not having these useful supplies sent off as waste.

Operation Green 2016-17 Team! (L-R) Amy Chan, Kiyoka Sasaki, Tina Wang, Jessica He, (not in photo, Evelyn Waugh)

Collecting the goodies … Operation Green’s 2016-17 Team! (L-R) Amy Chan, Kiyoka Sasaki, Tina Wang, Jessica He, (not in photo, Evelyn Waugh).

They often partner with great organizations like Not Just Tourists to get these goodies where they need to go. Luckily, you don’t have to be a med student to help out. Margo from the Princess Margaret Foundation volunteered to take an extra suitcase with her on holiday to Cuba. All these wonderful supplies helped out a nearby clinic.

Operation Green UHN supplies get to Cuba via Not Just Tourists

Operation Green supplies reach Cuba thanks to Margo from our own PMH Foundation! She carried a suitcase for Not Just Tourists.

UHN has sent about 19,051 kg (42,000 lbs) worth of great med supplies through Not Just Tourists in the last few years. That would be about 10 full skids worth of life-saving stuff!

Does your medical supply room need a shine?

There are lot of suggested items on  Operation Green’s poster below…

email OperationGreen@uhn.ca if you have any of these things

email OperationGreen@uhn.ca if you have any of these things and more

How to enter SEE IT SHINE (for UHN staff):

  1. Form a team for 3 or more
  2. Select an area to SHINE (like a medical supply room or clean utility room!)
  3. Take BEFORE pictures
  4. Sort, Set in Order and Shine (and get those great medical supplies to OperationGreen@uhn.ca)
  5. Take AFTER pictures
  6. Submit your entry form
  7. Sustain all year long by looking out for surplus supplies on a regular basis

(P.S. you can also skip right to the sending supplies to Op Green if you have them)

Love this and want to read more related stories?

Shine on!


A Food Lover’s Guide To Biomedical Waste – Talkin’ Trash, September 2016

(all apologies to cilantro…not!!!)

While I would not necessarily classify myself as a so-called “foodie”, I would say that a fair share of the enjoyment I get in life comes from partaking in some of the finer aspects of eating. As a matter of fact, it’s not uncommon that in the midst of enjoying a preparation of edibles I am simultaneously fondly recalling the pleasures of meals past, and the excitement of meals planned.

However, there is one aspect of food to which my enjoyment does not extend: cilantro. It’s horrid, vile, disgusting and, if I had my druthers, a) cilantro would be classified as biomedical waste and b) more people would use the word druthers.


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