I’m fortunate that in my role as talker of UHN trash, I’m occasionally called upon to tell our sustainability story outside of the hospital. And, as I’m weaving my trashy tale, I usually like to add a bit of context within which all of our greening takes place…and it usually goes something like this: we’re an acute care, teaching, research and rehab hospital, we’ve got something like 9 locations (depending on how you count) covering around 6 million square feet of floor space with something like 16,000 members in the UHN community (again, depending how you count). And, not to be forgotten, we produce around 40,000 pounds of garbage per day…and by the time I’m done storytelling, UHN will have spent between $1,500 and $3,500 on utilities (depends how long I blabber on for).
In short, we’re like a small city (I’m looking at you, Alliston, Tillsonburg and Fort Erie). I mean, think about it…in addition to all the amazing patient care, research and teaching we do, UHN has people to provide many of the core services found in most municipalities, with the equivalent of the Fire Department, Police, Solid Waste Management, Planning, Water Services, Public Health…heck, we even have our own version of public transit. And, I’m betting we could probably field a couple of pretty decent hockey teams, not to mention an ensemble or two of popular music performers.
And, because we’re like a small city, Energy & Environment devotes a small portion of its time not just to how UHNopolis goes about its day-to-day business, but also to how we plan and grow, as well as the impact the UHNburg community has on the environment.
So, setting aside the trash talk and “Turn It Off Before You Go Go” for a moment, here are some of the other things Energy & Environment is working on…
Teaming up our Housekeeping and Facility departments, we work together to review and suggest greener alternatives for maintenance and cleaning products used within the hospital. And it’s paying off – most of our large volume cleaning products are third-party eco-certified, providing a safer and healthier environment for our patients, staff and visitors.
The best way to avoid garbage and hazardous materials is to not buy them in the first place…which is why UHN has a Green Procurement policy. Energy & Environment is regularly involved in helping evaluate where a greener product or service may be available and cost effective (if not less expensive)…and more importantly, evaluating the environmental claims of vendors trying to sell us stuff.
The best way to make your building green is to build it that way in the first place…which is why we’ve developed the Energy & Environment Construction and Design Guidelines to guide our construction and redevelopment projects, and work regularly with UHN’s Project Managers.
As one might imagine, 16,000 people travelling alone in their cars to get to-and-from work will have a significant impact on the environment…not to mention traffic. Energy & Environment works with Metrolinx’s Smart Commute, Wellness and other UHNville groups to promote and develop more sustainable forms or commuting, such as use of public transit, active commuting (think cycling, walking or pogo sticking) and carpooling.
More than just those amazing build your own salad pot-lucks that Lisa coordinates, and my own fascination with free range anchovies, Energy & Environment is interested in food and the broader implications of its production, transport and waste. We’ve teamed up with Nutrition Services, UHN’s Dieticians and others to learn more about food at the hospital.