It’s a Great Time to be an Energy Saving Sports Fan In Toronto – Talkin’ Trash, April 2018

(apologies to Argonaut, Rock, Wolfpack and sports fanatics everywhere)

According to a random GoogleTM search (because, you know…the internet never lies), the average “top” ice hockey slap shot contains around 163 joules of energy.  Which (because, you know…energy is energy is energy) is the same as around 0.0454 watt-hours.  And because nobody, even long time energy type people, really knows exactly what a watt-hour is, is enough to keep one of those high-falutin’, energy efficient LED tubes we’ve put in all-over UHN going for around 9 seconds.

Put another way, that means accidently leaving just one of those high-falutin’ lights on overnight is the same as wasting over 5,000 Auston Matthews slap shots…Which. Can. Not. Be. Allowed. To. Happen (because, you know…if the Leafs are gonna go deep, we need more Auston).

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A Sneak Peek at Earth Week

You know it’s April when Mother Nature can’t make up her mind (appropriate April attire? Flip-flops and a parka). Let’s do some cheering up with a week long celebration…


There are lots of ways to show your love for our shared planet, no matter where you work or live. Here are just some of the resources for our citycountry and world. This is a perfect time to amp up your sustainable side. If you happen to be at or near any UHN site, give us a visit!

UHN Earth Week (Month) Schedule

Come meet your UHN green team and talk some trash (and recycling, composting, energy saving and more). Eco-friendly games, prizes…

schedule-graphic (2).png

And for a look just at the Gardening Workshops… 

Awesome stuff from our friends at Wellness! Just $5 to cover material costs. Register in advance to reserve your spot (and so they bring enough seeds for you)

Gardening Flyer-2018-Wellness

Gardening Flyer-2018-Wellness

Intro to Gardening Registration Form-2



A very good year … with an infographic to match

Energy & Environment … not just two great concepts, also the department that makes up our Talkin’ Trash with UHN team. Here, we focus on bringing sustainability to healthcare because of the strong interconnectedness of healthy people and a healthy planet. To get our hospitals greener, there’s a lot of nitty-gritty work, planning and collaboration (and hopefully, a laugh or 2). Our annual report 2017 infographic is a more colourful look at how we support patient care through a sustainable environment. Enjoy taking a stroll through the scroll …

EnE Annual report2017-cond


If you’re reading this, it means you scrolled all the way to the end … congrats! It may also mean you want to make your environment more sustainable. We live to collaborate on that so drop us a line anytime at green (at)


Providing Water to Toronto General Hospital with Greater Efficiency and Reliability

Providing Water to Toronto General Hospital with Greater Efficiency and Reliability

Most of us don’t think much about how we get our water.  It’s almost always available and relatively inexpensive.   For the vast majority in Canada it’s just one of the great benefits of living here.  However, the result is that we Canadian’s are not very good at managing our water consumption, as you can see in the graph below.

There’s a pretty clear inverse correlation between the price of water and the consumption of water.  It makes sense.  Generally the more something costs, the more careful people are with it.  That’s pretty similar to how we manage electricity too.

Our domestic water requires both water treatment and power for pumping.  Old pumping system were generally very inefficient designs because electricity was cheap and technology was expensive.  That’s one of the problems we had with the old domestic cold water booster pumps at Toronto General Hospital.

Water Consumption - Polaris


At Toronto General Hospital

For tall buildings pumping of domestic water is essential.  The water must be boosted in pressure so it can reach higher floors and be supplied consistently to equipment.   For a hospital, such as Toronto General, ensuring water is available and reliable is extremely important.   Patients, procedures, tests, and sensitive equipment all rely on it.  It also takes a lot of electricity to pump all that water to meet the hospital’s needs.   So in looking at the old systems and the new options available, it was clear there was a great opportunity for UHN to replace all four existing domestic cold water booster systems at TGH.

Table: Domestic Cold Water Booster Pumps at TGHDCW Pumps Table

The first two in the table, those in the Eaton and Peter Munk buildings have already been replaced, while RFE and NU pumps are underway.  I’m going to go into the details of the Eaton installation as I have measured data for that area.  Once the whole project is complete I’ll provide an update.  This is a great project so thank you Kaylen Bartoshewski for leading the implementation!



Eaton Building – Domestic Cold Water Booster System

The Old Pumps – Overview

The Eaton domestic cold water booster system was originally installed with the building, in 1978.  That means those pumps were older than I am.  Originally they consisted of three 30hp pumps, but one of those three was replaced long ago with a 25 hp motor.

Originally there wasn’t even emergency power for the pumps.  So if the hospital lost power, it also lost water.  At some point, a forward-thinking individual was able to connect one of the pumps to emergency power.  An improvement, but if that one pump failed, or was down for maintenance, again there would be no domestic water for the building.  That was just how hospitals were designed back then and obviously no longer acceptable.

The pumps were also constant speed, with single stage impellers, and pressure reducing valves.  That’s incredibly inefficient, much like driving your car with your foot on the gas and the brake at the same time.

Existing DCW Booster Pumps


The New Pumps – Overview

The new pumps are stainless steel, variable speed control, with multi-staged impellers, and increased monitoring points.  As a result of the multistage impellers, the new pumps don’t need as much power.  The motors are smaller and the hospital saves on electricity costs — the variable frequency drives are a big part of the electricity savings too.

Each pump has a 15 horsepower motor (half of the old motors), but instead of three pumps we selected four.  The reason for that was to improve redundancy.  Only two are ever required to meet the peak demand of the building., so if one pump fails or needs maintenance, there still another for backup.  That’s referred to as N+2 redundancy and is 50% better than was we had before.   The smaller motors also means less expensive replacements as equipment ages.

With the new system we also included a manual transfer switch to go from emergency power to normal power and back.  That’s in case one of those systems needs maintenance done or a shutdown for a new connection.  Now, when that happens, the system won’t need to shut down.

We also ensured the new control panel wasn’t a single point of failure.  If the control system were to fail, the pumps would continue operating on their own VFDs.  That control system also allows for much greater monitoring of the system.  Pressures, power, and alarms, are all provided to the building operators and trended on a server for analysis.

New DCW 009

VFDs on the new DCW p umps

New DCW 010

Clean stainless steel, multi-stage impellers, and 15 hp motors


The installation work was more complex than a typical commercial site (it’s an operating hospital).

Maintaining water to the hospital was very important and not just because of the hospital’s functions.  Infection prevention (IPAC) was a major consideration in planning.

In a shutdown of domestic water systems, material is able to flow back into the system(from faucets and sections of pipe that don’t seem much use.  That brings an opportunity to draw bacteria into the water supply, where it can grow.  There’s also a pressure wave upon restart which can dislodge material in the piping.  To avoid that issue, we installed a temporary pump.

First we cut into the domestic water piping upstream and downstream of the pump, while the system was running.  That process is called “hot tapping”.  We then installed valving on the new connections and connected a temporary booster pump, which could operate while the new system was installed.  A lot of prep work was required ahead of time so that this could be done in one night.  The neat thing is that those connections will now remain, in case they are needed again.  I’d recommend all hospitals install temporary connections like that right when the hospital is first built, the incremental cost would be minimal.

Another IPAC consideration was in the installation process.  The installers cleaned and sterilized each part of the pump system before it was installed, which ensured no dust or other contaminant was introduced into the system during the installation.


Eaton – System Control

Prior to any design work we first metered the pressures, flow, and power consumption of the original booster system for two weeks.  That gave us a great understanding of how the system regularly operates and how to design the new system.  Other calculations were used to compare and a safety factor was applied to the resulting recommendation.  That audit was also 50% funded by Toronto Hydro through the Save on Energy program.  Why?  Because there are big energy savings.

Old Pumps – Operation

The first thing to note is that the operating pressures of the old system jumped around, a lot.  That’s because the pumps were constant speed, but the load was variable.  The system pressure is impacted by both the incoming city pressure and the amount of water being used at any given time. The result was that supply pressure to the buildings varied by ~40psi (graph below).   That’s like pungling deep into the ocean, 100 feet at a time, underwater and then up to the surface, repeating again and again.

Old Pumps Operating Pressures

The old pumps were also extremely inefficient in maintaining their pressure.  That’s exhibited in the graph below.  It shows that even though the demands on the system changed, the power used by the pumps was relatively constant.

Old Pumps - Operating Profile

New Pumps – Operation

The first thing to notice about the new pumps is that they provide a much more stable operation (also note that the durations sampled in both graphs are the same).  Supply pressure was typically maintained ~135 psi, with peak swings less than half of the old system.  The graph also shows that even though city supply pressure remained highly variable (light blue line on graph), the new pumps controlled well to meet supply pressure requirements (purple line on graph).

New Pumps Operating Pressures

The other thing to note is that the power requirements of the new pumps (yellow line below) tracked extremely well to the inlet pressure (blue line below).  When inlet pressure went up, pumping power went down, thereby saving in operating costs.


New Pumps - Pressures for Power

Comparing the new pump power (yellow line below) to the average consumption old system (red dashed line below) shows dramatic savings in energy.  It’s 84% lower!!

Pump Power - Old vs New


The Result?

The new domestic cold water system at Eaton has a number of benefits.

  • Greatly improved pressure control and monitoring
  • Increased redundancy (N+2), if a pump fails
  • Increased domestic water capabilities when running on emergency power
  • Improved maintenance (normal/emergency power switchover, proper shut-off valves, no pressure reducing valves, etc)
  • A new, clean, stainless steel pumping system
  • 85% energy savings and $35,000 a year.

The new pumps are seeing an electricity savings of approximately 84%, translating into ~$35,000 a year.  If the system operates for at least it’s expected life of 15 years that’s half a million dollars in savings.

DCW Electricity Savings


Once the other systems are complete we’ll report on those projects too.

Mike at Home: The Sequel

When Ontario is giving out free smart thermostats, you know it’s time for a blog! Most of my recent blog posts have been about projects at UHN, so this time I’m going to change it up and talk about a couple of neat technologies I’m using at my apartment to save energy. Both of these savings ideas were mentioned in my previous Mike at Home Blog, but these new technologies really help to put those ideas into practice in a convenient way. There are many ways to save energy at home, even if you are a renter like me!

Smart Thermostat

I already had a programmable thermostat which was helping to save energy, but I wasn’t able to maximize savings for a couple of reasons. One way I typically try to save power is by setting back the thermostat if I’m away for a weekend or longer vacation, however this often led to an uncomfortably cold temperature for a few hours upon return. When energy savings lead to discomfort it can be difficult to maintain the energy savings behavior and I may have been less consistent in doing the temperature set back as a result. With my old thermostat on the fritz, I took the opportunity to upgrade to a web-connected thermostat.


New Thermostat (source)

With the new thermostat, even if I forget to set it back before leaving, I can log in anywhere with cell/WiFi coverage and click the “away” mode on the home screen and it automatically sets the temperature back to my predetermined away setpoint. My wife and I were on vacation recently and her parents happened to be staying in Toronto while we were gone. I was able to click “home” mode to make sure it was warm when they got there and then set it back to “away” when they left despite being over 8000km away! We now have no concerns about setting back the temperature when we are away because we know we can just turn the heat back on a few hours before we get home. NOTE: If you are doing a temperature setback, make sure to set it high enough so that there is no risk of pipe freezing.

The other item that the new thermostat improved is that it allows 6 setpoint changes per day. This feature enabled me to shift heating loads off peak electricity times. For example, winter peak electricity times are between 7-11am and 5-7pm. I increased my setpoint to 22C until 5pm and then drop it to 19C from 5-7pm to “coast” while electricity is at its most expensive, then return to my normal setpoint of 20C after 7pm. This sounds complicated but you only need to set it up once and then copy the schedule to the other days of the week.

Electricity Prices

Current Toronto Hydro Rates for Winter

Check out the difference in on-peak consumption before and after the installation:

Peak Savings

Highest Price Electricity Consumption Trending Down

If you are into tech gadgets, it’s a fun little project to install and set up a new smart thermostat. I had a bit of difficulty finding a smart thermostat that would work on my line voltage baseboard heaters (most are designed for low voltage control wiring for furnaces), but I was eventually able to find a solution from a Quebec company called Sinopé. It has been working well so far if anyone else out there is looking for a solution for baseboard heating. Other smart thermostats have different functions such as tracking your location to optimize settings based on your schedule, but I have found the two uses mentioned above to be the most practical.

Although I’ve only had the thermostat in for a couple of months, I thought I would try to take a stab at what the savings should be over a typical year. I took my electricity bills and normalized to weather since there is a strong heating component to my electricity usage. Based on a brief analysis it looks like I’m saving about $25 per month in the winter. This is partially due to reduced overall consumption and partially due to being able to reduce consumption during peak hours. Given there are approximately 5 winter months, this would amount to about $125 savings annually. The payback is under 2 years. In your case, you might also be using the same thermostat to save on air conditioning in the summer, meaning your savings could be higher. You may also have a larger space than my 550 square foot apartment, which would also mean potentially higher savings. If you are heating with gas, the savings rate in winter would be lower than mine as gas is a cheaper fuel than electricity.

If 2 years isn’t a fast enough payback for you, there is a government program right now that will buy you a smart thermostat and install it for free! They also now have a rebate program for renters.

Shower Water Meter

As a Christmas gift this year, my brother gave me a Bluetooth water meter that can easily be installed on a shower head. It gives you instant feedback on how much water and energy you are using via a small display and you can download aggregate data over Bluetooth. It even has a little graphic of a polar bear on an iceberg, which slowly melts as your shower lasts longer and longer! At the end of your shower, it gives you a rating A through F. At first I thought this thing is silly – I already take efficient showers – but I decided to give it a go anyways.


Amphiro B1 Shower Water Meter

I took a couple of “normal” showers and found that I was using around 13-15L of water each time, which was in the B range. What! B?! Unacceptable! So the challenge was on. There is a degree of gamification to it to see how low you can go while still maintaining proper hygiene. I got down to 5L with extreme rushing, but eventually I’ve now settled into the range of about 7-10L per shower – average savings of about 40%! Even though I thought I was efficient already, the instant feedback really helped to encourage more savings. The easiest way to save water is to shut the faucet off while you are applying soap, shampoo, etc and turn it back on again to rinse off.

The cost savings from taking showers is a bit of a different story than the thermostat. Because my showers were fairly efficient to begin with, the savings are quite low even though I was able to decrease my consumption by a significant percentage. However, the average person uses about 65L of water per shower! If you were able to reduce from that level to the 10L range, you could save over $100 per year for each person in the household (assuming you are taking showers in the morning and therefore heating with on peak electricity)! Savings would be about $30 per person per year if you heat with gas since it is a cheaper fuel and doesn’t have time of use charges. And don’t forget you would also be saving about $50 per person per year of water no matter which fuel you are heating with. A family of 4 could save over $600 annually if they heat with electricity or over $300 if they heat with gas just by reducing shower length. Also, you can compete with each other to see who can be the most efficient!

Overall, I’ve found the smart thermostat and the bluetooth shower meter to be fun ways to play with technology and to encourage energy savings. Hopefully you are able to get creative with energy savings at home as well!

But wait! Don’t forget that here at UHN we also walk the talk about sustainability! In fact, this week Global Green and Healthy Hospitals presented UHN with Gold medal awards in Climate Resiliency and Climate Leadership! Congrats to everyone involved!


This Earth Hour, let’s #Connect2Earth


Spring technically sprung yesterday (though you might not know it from the abundant parkas, scarves and mittens). Spring brings an abundance of eco-themed holidays like Earth Day and Bike Month. But first, we begin with Earth Hour, a time to focus specifically on saving energy.

When? Saturday, March 24 from 8:30-9:30 pm.

What? Power Down: turn off the lights (if safe to do so) and anything with a plug and a switch. Before you put away your screens, get the social media word out with #Connect2Earth (yes, a brand new hashtag).

Why? Energy consumption (in our houses, buildings and cars) is a massive contributor to those nasty greenhouse gas emissions (GHG, the emissions villain in the story of climate change). Take the hour to save energy now and throughout the year.

The WWF leads the way on this one (World Wildlife Fund, not World Wrestling Federation, though I bet many wrestlers are also treehuggers – very strong treehuggers).

From the WWF:

Join us this #EarthHour on Saturday, 24 March, 8:30 p.m. local time, and be a part of our movement to protect our planet and its incredible nature!

Starting as a symbolic lights out event in Sydney in 2007, WWF’s Earth Hour has grown to become the world’s largest grassroots movement for the environment, inspiring individuals, communities, businesses and organizations in more than 180 countries and territories to take action for our shared home💪🌎

From our forests to our oceans, we have achieved many amazing things for our climate and its biodiversity – showing us that together, anything is possible 🙂 in solidarity with global efforts to protect our planet and its biodiversity


Here at UHN, we will also dim the lights at many of our buildings, though no candle-lit surgeries or hand-drawn MRIs. We also encourage everyone at work or at home to participate in Earth Hour in whatever way they can. Better than an hour is to keep that energy-conserving goodness going all year. Maybe start or join a green team to get motivated? Walking the talk is always better together.

This Saturday, see you under the stars.



Want to dig deeper?


Cups, Cars, & Co-op


image credit: ux.stackexchange

Hello everyone. My name is Tessa and I am a grade 11 high school co-op student. For these past five months, I have been working on various projects and initiatives with the Energy & Environment Department. These include helping out with a lighting audit to help the switch to LEDs, conducting waste audits to see how well people recycle, and surveying parking lots for potential EV upgrades.

While working on the waste audit, I became aware of several things, such as the fact that Styrofoam has been classified as a carcinogen and never really decomposes. On a less alarming note, I discovered that recycling policies are different at the hospitals and other buildings versus home. The main difference is that coffee cups at UHN are recyclable and Styrofoam is garbage. Another difference is that TGH and PMCRT have separated recycling bins. During the waste audit I noticed that judging by the number of contaminated garbage bins, not many people know about this. For a more detailed look at the differences in recycling policies for the hospitals, see this post:


Recently, I participated in a survey checking the feasibility of electric vehicle charging stations at the hospital parking lots. Doing so entailed counting the numbers of electric vehicles, hybrid vehicles, and empty parking spaces, as well as wondering whether or not labels like flex-fuel and EcoBoost mean that the car is a hybrid (they don’t). Getting the charging stations is important because studies have shown that having a charging station at work can decrease range anxiety and boost the likelihood of buying an EV by 600%. Using an electric as opposed to gas powered vehicle can reduce carbon emissions  by 94%. 74% of staff are in favour of getting charging stations and 50% either have an EV already or are thinking of getting one within 5 years. Those are pretty convincing statistics! Encouraging the use of electric vehicles is a step towards a greener future and a step in the right direction. Add that to increased walking, cycling and transit for sustainable transportation.

tessa 3

image credit:

Outside of co-op I am on my school’s Eco-team. A couple of weeks ago I attended a youth leadership conference with some of the other members. Throughout the conference, something that really stuck out to me is that in order to make a difference you need to change human behavior, and that can start with something as small as recycling your coffee cups.