Shut the Sash: The Power of Pizza

Armit Dhinsa - the sash man

Armit – the sash man

Hi, my name is Armit Dhinsa; I am a co-op student from Waterloo who has been leading the Shut the Sash program from January 2016. For those of you in research at UHN, you have probably seen me wandering around the lab spaces for some time now, wondering how I magically appear out of nowhere almost everyday. It is all the the Shut the Sash campaign, a major energy saving behavior change program in Research.

The importance of Shutting the Sash was new to me when I joined. As a biology student who uses fume hoods regularly at school, the extremely high energy usage of the Fume hood was completely unknown to me.

Shut the Sash had been run previously at the Princess Margaret Cancer Research Tower (PMCRT), formerly known as the Toronto Medical Discovery Tower (TMDT). It was a complete success, with compliance percentage rates jumping from the 40’s to the 90’s.

Over the years since the first run of the program, Sash compliance percentage dipped back down to the mid 60’s. Research has a constant influx of new staff and without regular education and reminders, they were unfamiliar with the program, why they should participate and how to do it.

I ran education sessions where we provided pizza lunches in exchange for information about Fume Hood energy use.

Pizza Imager

I promised pizza in a raffle to one lab per month and the results were spectacular. Food is an amazing motivator!

The campaign has been a complete success at both sites; PMCRT started at 65% and reached an average compliance of 91% after only four months, on track to surpass the average reached by the previous campaign. Krembil Discovery Tower (KDT) has increased from 29% to an amazing 93% in just four months.

Princess Margaret Cancer Research Tower - Average Percentage of Fume Hoods Shut by month

Princess Margaret Cancer Research Tower – Average Percentage of Fume Hoods Shut by month


Krembil Discovery Tower Graph: Average % Fume Hoods Shut by Month

Krembil Discovery Tower Graph: Average % Fume Hoods Shut by Month


The amount of air being exhausted has been reduced by the equivalent of 5233 blimps on average per month. This would reach a length of 392 KM, the equivalent to driving from Toronto to Detroit.

A WEE WARNING THOUGH (added Aug 8, 2016-Lisa Vanlint):

Not all research areas can participate in Shut the Sash. In some buildings it will unbalance the  air systems  (not good). If you have variable volume fume hoods (with other HVAC control systems), then shutting the sash works really well. If not, then no.

SHUT THE SASH at Krembil Discovery Tower, and Princess Margaret Cancer Research Tower and Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.

DON’T SHUT THE SASH at Max Bell Research Centre, Toronto General Hospital, Canadian Blood Services, & Toronto Western Research Institute

Sash or no sash, please enjoy saving energy in lots of ways … turning off lights, computers, printers when you aren’t using them. The energy you save can be used to save lives (and make pizza).

3 thoughts on “Shut the Sash: The Power of Pizza

  1. Pingback: 16 Good Things in 2016 | Talkin' Trash With UHN

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  3. Pingback: Finding that Sweet Spot | Talkin' Trash With UHN

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