Energy Conservation, Behaviour Change and Hospital Culture

The largest hospital in Canada, University Health Network (UHN) in Toronto has made an organization wide commitment to Energy Management through an innovative program called Operation TLC.  Using technical, process and behaviour change equally we have demonstrated how limited resources, a big idea and determination have resulted in culture change in a large complex organization.  We are offering an opportunity for a collaborator to help assess the preliminary results of our efforts.

Preliminary results show that where TLC is put in place with a local (familiar) champion, excess electricity from; lights, computers, and equipment decreases between 30%-100% after hours. In the past 8 years we have seen more facilities staff who believe in energy efficiency, we have the CFO and CEO asking for energy impacts on all capital projects, we have resources to expand the energy department, people all over UHN talk about TLC regularly, we will meet our conservation goal of 10% or $2.35 million (CND) this year and staff consistently report more lights off this year compared to last.

We think TLC is a no cost, simple, fun, scalable, replicable and effective energy management program for complex buildings and work environments. But we want to prove it. We are looking for a research collaborator to:

  1. Help design a methodology to evaluate our program process and impacts.
  2. Collect relevant data and monitor program progress.
  3. Develop ideas on how to improve the program and make it scalable to other buildings and work environments.

Individuals with interests in one or more of the following areas are encouraged to get in touch: Environmental Sustainability, Environmental or Social Psychology, Behavioural Economics, Organizational Behaviour, Energy Engineering and Building Science.

This is an opportunity to work with experts in the field and develop the research agenda in the emerging discipline of Energy Management and Social Change.  While substantial research is available from the residential sector, workplaces in general and institutions in particular have received limited attention in the literature.  This research opportunity will help UHN tailor the components of our Energy Management Program to ensure a design for maximum impact.  In addition this research will contribute to the evidence base for the effectiveness of behavioural interventions at the organization level.

This research is process oriented and will help define the most useful ways to monitor and evaluate “existing behaviours [that] are not isolated but embedded in broader sociotechnical systems and strongly shaped by existing infrastructures, conventions and social structures” (Breukers, S. et al. 2009). Describing the “context of everyday interactions and decision making around energy” (Lockton, D. 2014) will help UHN understand the determinants of behaviour, quantify the investment in behaviour programs and the trade-offs required.

This is an opportunity to collaboratively learn about pro-environmental behaviour change, what counts as success, which data should be collected and the range of benefits that can be realized by program designers, participants  and the organization overall.

Please send all inquiries to Kady Cowan kady.cowan[at} 1-416-340-4800 x 5740

Breukers, S. Heiskanen, E., Mourik, R.M., Bauknecht, D., Hodson, M., Barabanova, Y., Vadovics, E. (2009). Interaction Schemes for Successful Energy Demand Side Management. Building Blocks for a practicable and conceptual framework. Changing Bahviour.

Lockton, D., (2014) Personal Communication.