Modern day energy is ironic (or is it paradoxical?).  You see, while energy lets us do many amazing things like be comfortable, provide top-class healthcare and enjoy free range anchovies year round, using that energy can also erode those very things.  Take, for example, the burning of fossil fuels…a great discovery; burning fossil fuels can be used to warm-up cold places, move people and stuff quickly over large distances, generate electricity and fry up those free range anchovies just right.  But burning fossil fuels also releases a bunch of stuff to the environment that has been linked to respiratory, cardiovascular, cognitive and developmental health issues…which is kind of the opposite of top-class health care.  And burning fossil fuels contributes to climate change, which comes with its own health and social baggage…which runs counter to all the good that energy provides.  And if that wasn’t enough, energy costs money…and as prices go up, we’re left with less money for providing top-class healthcare and enjoying free range anchovies.

suggestion_boxNow, while energy efficiency has been part of UHN since the last millennia, there’s always need for new ideas and reflection, which is why I’m thrilled with all the energy (good one!!!) UHNers have recently been putting into suggesting energy saving ideas…and thought it would be a good idea to present…

Energy Efficiency: What We’ve Done, Where We’re Going, and What We Can All Do To Help Us Get There

Your Energy Saving Suggestion: Install occupancy sensors in for lights in closets, washrooms, meeting rooms, waiting areas, lounges and supply rooms.

The road to lighting frustration is paved with occupancy sensors…lights turning off unexpectedly, frantic hand waving as you desperately try to wake-up the lights.  But lighting sensors have gotten smarter and, after a fair amount of research, we’ve found systems that work well for our hospitals.  We’ve completed fairly large installations at TGH and are building the case to expand to our other facilities.  What can we all do to help?  Let Energy & Environment know of good areas for sensors and, in the meantime, practice Manual Digital Manipulation of Binary Control Systems for Energy Using Equipment (MDMoBCSfEUE…aka, use your finger).

YESS: Ask cleaning staff to turn off lights at night as they make their rounds.

Our Housekeepers are already some of the most committed and energetic (good one!!!) members of the UHN community when it comes to turning out the lights – Energy & Environment meets regularly with Housekeeping to talk about energy and waste, and will continue to pick their brains to learn more about the best opportunities and issues.  And what can we all do to help?  Well, while our Housekeepers do a good job at turning off the lights, they’re really a last resort…so, if you have your own lights, turn ‘em off.  If there are shared areas with the lights always on (such as lounges, conference rooms and so on), find your departmental Energy Expert and come up with a plan to share the responsibility of MDMoBCSfEUE.  Don’t have/know your departmental Energy Expert?  Well, if at UHN, then contact Kady at

YESS: Turn-off desktop computers, printers, and meeting room screens left on overnight and weekends.

While it’s true that most equipment these days comes with a “sleep” or “energy saving” mode, the truth is that it still uses energy when at rest – a whopping $19 billion per year in the US according to a recent studySo what can we all do to help?  Make sure sleep mode is activated on electronics (with the exception of critical items needed for patient care and other sensitive activities)…and MDMoBCSfEUE.

YESS: Be efficient with heating and cooling…turn thermostats down.

The road to Energy Manager hair loss is paved with inefficient heating and cooling.  Which is why, though not as flashy as solar panels or windmills, a lot of what Energy & Environment does with Facilities is find ways to heat and cool our hospitals more efficiently…kind of like turning down the thermostat in one of the most complex buildings out there.  And while we’re making headway correcting some of the underlying issues and fine tuning the way our buildings are operated, there are many more opportunities we continue to work on.  But what can we all do to help?  Heating, cooling and ventilation for our large, complex buildings are controlled by, in most cases, building automation systems…which are large and complex in their own right, with some systems containing thousands of sensors, meters and moving parts.  Not surprisingly, sometimes pieces of those large and complex systems can break, so if you’re too hot or too cold, let Facilities know…it may be a simple repair, or a new underlying issue