Being an ex-chemist (hey, back in the day, I could pipette and titrate with the best of them) I can tell you that fume-hoods are good things.  Okay, maybe I wasn’t so good at titrating, but fume hoods do a very good job of keeping strong chemicals out of sensitive things like eyes and ears and lungs.

To do their good work, fume hoods have to draw a lot of air out of rooms full of chemicals, and shoot that air as far away as possible from sensitive things.  And all that air that’s shot away has to be replaced with fresh air.  And all the fresh air needs to be heated and/or cooled and/or humidified and/or dehumidified.  And all this adds up to a fume hood, despite the good work it does, using a lot of energy…as much as three times the energy used by an average house.

Fortunately for UHN, fume hoods are no match for the Research Laboratory Services at TMDT and their brilliant ”Shut The Sash Campaign”.  The concept is simple…because the fume hoods at TMDT are variable velocity (Warning!  Unless your fume hoods are variable velocity, do not try this at home.),  they do just as good work when the sash (the slidey down door thing on the fume hood) is closed, but use much less energy than when the sash is left open.

The potential energy savings were huge; shutting the sash on TMDT’s 99 fume hoods could eliminate 550 tonnes of green house gas, equivalent to taking one car off the road for even shut fume hood, so the TMDT Green Team started an awareness campaign to remind lab users to “shut the sash”.  There are stickers, an orientation presentation, regular spot checks, a pizza draw…and some pretty awesome results.

Before “Shut The Sash” kicked into gear, only around 47% of fume hoods were closed when not in use.  After the first month of the campaign, sash shutting compliance shot up to 88%.  And now, nine months in, compliance is regularly 95% or more.  Some preliminary number crunching is indicating steam savings of around 12,000,000 (million!) pounds per year and a similar order of magnitude for electricity.

LIke I said…awesome results…take it from an ex-chemist.