These days it is hard to find a good news story in our social media feeds, but UHN continues to create good energy and climate action stories. Our latest in a long line of LED retrofit projects has been completed at the two UHN Research towers: Krembil Discovery Tower (KDT) and Princess Margaret Cancer Research Tower (PMCRT).

The largest part of the project involved replacing fluorescent T8 tubes with plug and play LED equivalent. I have written extensively about the benefits of this type of project here and here. To summarize those articles, the main benefits are: cost savings, improved light levels, better workplace safety due to shatterproof tubes, no toxic mercury, and longer service life.

An LED T8 Tube

Now let’s jump into the savings numbers! Working with our facilities management partner, Black and McDonald, we replaced 6,677 lamps at KDT and 8,475 lamps at PMCRT, totaling over 15,000 lamps.

  • Total savings: 769,000 kWh of electricity
  • Cost savings: $100,000 per year
  • Payback: 1 year

The Ontario grid is 94% fossil fuel free, but these electricity savings still represent a reduction of 31 tonnes CO2 per year. These emissions savings must be balanced by a heat penalty because more efficient lights put out less heat in the building, part of which must be made up by the building heating system. In this case the heat penalty reduces the savings to 10.3 tons. This is equivalent to taking 3 houses off fossil fuels.

Although this seems like a simple project, we did encounter some technical issues with equipment compatibility. Despite the existing T8 ballasts being listed as compatible and despite us installing test lamps in several areas to verify, we still ended up having to replace significant quantities of ballasts at KDT due to a previously unknown issue. This added cost to the project and unfortunately some brief disruptions to lighting. I would like to thank our staff in those areas for being understanding and our facilities management team for being extremely responsive to issues. I would also like to thank the IESO for providing incentives that enabled us to move forward with the project despite strict financial limitations on our spending.

So why is this (along with many Energy and Environment projects) such a good news story? In times of pandemic, we are very mindful of one of UHN’s core values: stewardship. Every dollar we divert from utility costs is a dollar that can be redirected to front line care. Every tonne of CO2 we don’t emit produces valuable societal health benefits and improves the resilience of our health system. This relationship between environment, cost, and public health encourages us to continue to pursue energy reduction and environmental goals in concert with our efforts to combat the pandemic.

Hopefully this positive energy story has been a nice respite from doom-scrolling on Twitter!