June 13th, walking against a brisk wind on an early Monday morning I hurried to work. Stuck at a red light, I couldn’t help but notice the variety of ways people get around- walking, transit, driving…in a stroller. This was a ‘special’ morning for me and for those participating in UHN’s Clean Air Commute- it was the first day of the challenge to find a more environmentally friendly way of getting to UHN.

Energy and Environment has always supported programs that can simultaneously better our health and our environment. So just as last year, UHN again committed and participated in Pollution Probe’s Clean Air Commute. This eco-friendly competition challenges us to find ways of getting to work that would reduce the amounts of pollutants we release into the air. Here’s a sad statistic: in Ontario, 1800 people die prematurely each year due to poor air quality (Source: Pollution Probe). Energy and Environment campaigns for patient and planet centered care- protect the environment, protect our health.

This year, close to 600 staff signed up for the Clean Air Commute event- joining the UHN Blue Crew and recording their commuter log. According to your log, the most popular form of green commuting modes was the good ol’ transit. The second most popular was cycling of course, as if you hadn’t already noticed the mounds of packed bike cages. On the topic of biking to work, as part of the UHN’s Clean Air Commute event, bicyclists were treated to a free bike repair workshop on June 14th on the lawns of TGH. Many came with their bikes in tow for the chance to get their repair questions answered- “what’s that racket about, why’s that cable loose, what’s this hoopla, what’s that hoopla…” (Thanks to all those who showed up and participated).

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So 600 staff commuting in a greener way, what’s the result of all of our efforts- we avoided close to 14 tonnes of pollutants from getting into our air! Congratulations and great job team.

With many of the participants already green commuters year round, why then would they take part in this challenge- maybe it was their green blue heart, or maybe it was to be a part of something bigger, or maybe it was all of the FREE stuff to be won (exotic vacation, swanky bicycles, etc.). But whatever the reason, staff showed their support in droves. Thank you!

So UHN, did you notice your skies bluer and your air cleaner? Green commuting is not just a challenge for a week, but it should be a lifestyle change. Giving staff ideas and options to be greener is part of Energy and Environment’s mission.  There are greener options to suit your style of getting to work.  So how do you get to work…?

  • Cycling: good for the environment, good for the body. We’ve got more bike racks in place and we’ve launched the BIXI bike sharing program. We’ve also hosted fun events such as the Cycling Town Hall event held on earth day;
  • Carpooling: because everyone needs a sing along buddy. We’ve created a UHN Carpool Zone to help UHN staff find coworkers to carpool with;
  • Public transit: it’s the safer, faster, more green way to get downtown;
  • Walking: it’s green, it’s free, need I say more;
  • Working from home…umm Boss, I have a green idea…

Thanks again to all of those who participated!