Nicole and Hayley here, your trusty Energy and Environment interns. We figured it was about time we did a guest blog on Talkin’ Trash since we have been with UHN since September. Since we began here we have been working on a few interesting projects but we thought today we would talk to you about Energy Star®.

I know we’ve all heard of Energy Star® or have seen their stickers on your computer/washing machine/ etc. etc., but what is energy star? And more importantly, what does it mean to UHN?

ImageContrary to popular belief, there is a meaning behind that sticker on your computer monitor, and it’s actually a pretty awesome project. This symbol is the easiest way to identify an Energy Star® qualified product, which means they use less energy than your everyday, run of the mill (insert appliance here). Becoming Energy Star® certified isn’t an easy feat though. To become qualified those products have to pass some pretty tight restrictions…kind of like me trying to button up my dress pants for that first day back at work after the holidays… But really, there are very strict technical specifications that must be met, which are then followed by more testing and finally, certification.

But wait, if my Energy Star® product uses less energy it must not be as good…right? WRONG! Through the testing and certification process, Energy Star® makes sure that every energy product certified does not compromise performance in ANY way.

Fun Fact: Windows can also be Energy Star® certified meaning they have better insulation resulting in less compromise of the internal temperature of a room. Not only does this help save money and all that fun stuff, but add to the comfort of who really matters…the patients. Especially, on a day like today, I know that I want to keep as much heat in as possible.

I know, I know, you are thinking this is so very cool but what does it have to do with UHN?

Well, as most of you here know UHN is at the forefront of energy efficiency in hospitals. By signing up to be an Energy Star® participant, UHN has agreed to promote and use Energy Star® certified products. UHN will also provide Natural Resources Canada with written information on Energy Star® efforts, including, improving energy efficiency and promoting the procurement guidelines to foster an influx of Energy Star® certified products.

But wait, that’s not all! Being the front-runner that UHN is when it comes to Patient and Planet Centered Care (that is the motto!), they have gone one step further.

In 2008, UHN participated in a benchmark questionnaire in collaboration with Natural Resources Canada. It revealed that the decision makers for healthcare purchasing need extra guidance and encouragement to implement more energy-efficient purchasing policies and practices. Like your New Year’s Revolution diet and exercise plan, you know it’s there, and in the beginning you are all gung-ho about it but as time goes by you find it difficult to stick by. What happens is you end up choosing something “easier,” like a bacon double cheeseburger and binge-watching an entire season of Breaking Bad on Netflix until your best friend comes over to drag you out of your cave to civilization. Well this is kind of like that best friend, there to help you make the right choices, like having a salad—or choosing a product that has that trusty Energy Star® sticker on it. The hope for this pilot project is to assist these big decision makers in choosing the most energy-efficient products which will not only save them money from decreased energy expenses, but reduce greenhouse gas emissions AND improve air quality!

It doesn’t stop there though, it is important that staff are educated and engaged in the Energy Star® program as they are the people that are involved in the day to day workings throughout the network. The purchase of energy star products will not only improve energy efficiency at UHN, but will also help to engage staff. The presence of the Energy Star® certified label on products that staff are using day to day allow for them to be constantly aware of the sustainability efforts they are taking part in throughout the UHN community.

So take a second to look around you. Do you see any Energy Star® products? If you are at work, think about who makes the big purchasing decisions and whether they would consider the most energy-efficient products. When looking for Energy Star® products don’t forget–they come in all different shapes and sizes, from electronics to appliances to light bulbs. Check out the full list of Energy Star® certified products here.