A very good year … with an infographic to match

Energy & Environment … not just two great concepts, also the department that makes up our Talkin’ Trash with UHN team. Here, we focus on bringing sustainability to healthcare because of the strong interconnectedness of healthy people and a healthy planet. To get our hospitals greener, there’s a lot of nitty-gritty work, planning and collaboration (and hopefully, a laugh or 2). Our annual report 2017 infographic is a more colourful look at how we support patient care through a sustainable environment. Enjoy taking a stroll through the scroll …

EnE Annual report2017-cond


If you’re reading this, it means you scrolled all the way to the end … congrats! It may also mean you want to make your environment more sustainable. We live to collaborate on that so drop us a line anytime at green (at) uhn.ca.


Providing Water to Toronto General Hospital with Greater Efficiency and Reliability

Providing Water to Toronto General Hospital with Greater Efficiency and Reliability

Most of us don’t think much about how we get our water.  It’s almost always available and relatively inexpensive.   For the vast majority in Canada it’s just one of the great benefits of living here.  However, the result is that we Canadian’s are not very good at managing our water consumption, as you can see in the graph below.

There’s a pretty clear inverse correlation between the price of water and the consumption of water.  It makes sense.  Generally the more something costs, the more careful people are with it.  That’s pretty similar to how we manage electricity too.

Our domestic water requires both water treatment and power for pumping.  Old pumping system were generally very inefficient designs because electricity was cheap and technology was expensive.  That’s one of the problems we had with the old domestic cold water booster pumps at Toronto General Hospital.

Water Consumption - Polaris

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Mike at Home: The Sequel

When Ontario is giving out free smart thermostats, you know it’s time for a blog! Most of my recent blog posts have been about projects at UHN, so this time I’m going to change it up and talk about a couple of neat technologies I’m using at my apartment to save energy. Both of these savings ideas were mentioned in my previous Mike at Home Blog, but these new technologies really help to put those ideas into practice in a convenient way. There are many ways to save energy at home, even if you are a renter like me!

Smart Thermostat

I already had a programmable thermostat which was helping to save energy, but I wasn’t able to maximize savings for a couple of reasons. One way I typically try to save power is by setting back the thermostat if I’m away for a weekend or longer vacation, however this often led to an uncomfortably cold temperature for a few hours upon return. When energy savings lead to discomfort it can be difficult to maintain the energy savings behavior and I may have been less consistent in doing the temperature set back as a result. With my old thermostat on the fritz, I took the opportunity to upgrade to a web-connected thermostat.


New Thermostat (source)

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This Earth Hour, let’s #Connect2Earth


Spring technically sprung Continue reading

Cups, Cars, & Co-op


image credit: ux.stackexchange

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#GreatBigCrunch March 1, 2:30 pm

#GreatBigCrunch March 1, 2:30 pm

When it comes to food and health, there is a ton of debate on what and how to eat … but the one thing almost everyone agrees on is that fresh veggies and fruits rule. There are many reasons why, from healthier people to a healthier planet, and now we have “moodbooster” to add to the list. An Australian study in 2016 found increasing veggies and fruits by 8 servings/day made people happier. How much happier? The same amount as going from not having a job to gainfully employed (HUMONGOUS!).

Let’s celebrate our happiness-inducing veggies and fruits with a #GreatBigCrunch, a Foodshare event now in its 11th year.

All About the #GreatBigCrunch

When: Thursday, March 1, 2018 at 2:30pm EST – but you can crunch anytime.

What: Get together, bring your favourite crunchy produce (like apples, carrots, radishes, celery, but not potato chips) and take a big, synchronized bite to celebrate your crunch!

Share: your crunch photos/videos (sound high!) using #GreatBigCrunch (If you’re at UHN, use #GreatBigCrunch #UHN and we’ll retweet you for days).

Register: with Foodshare so every crunch counts.

Who & Where: Anyone can participate anywhere across Ontario: workplaces, schools, outside or at home … perhaps not in a sterile operating theatre, but pretty much anywhere else is game. Help make noise for food literacy and a national school food program.


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Random thoughts and observations of an itinerant cyclist


As a year-round bike commuter at UHN who also travels widely, I am fortunate to be able to sample the local cycling culture in these distant locales.  Recently Lisa Vanlint asked me to contribute to this forum by sharing some of my world-wide cycling experiences.  I am happy to do so.  To wit, I was in Medellin, Colombia last week giving some lectures (Medellin?!  Yes, think drug cartels, Pablo Escobar, cocaine capital of the world…  but those heady 1990s gangster days are mostly behind them:)


For some context — Medellin (pronounced Me-de-dj-in) is a relative large (GTA-sized) city in the Andes, located in a picturesque valley with steep hills / mountains on both sides.  In terms of public transport, it has a surprisingly nice above-ground Metro that is widely used.  Most lines runs along the valley, but there are a couple of gondola-based “Metro-Cable” lines that head perpendicularly up the slopes into the poorer neighbourhoods on the mountainsides. Very nice!


In terms of cycling, Medellin is actually reasonably advanced.  It has a bike-share city program and some bike lanes.  The latter are not too extensive, and are often quite challenging to navigate in the car-dominant urban environment (think GTA?!:), but at least there are some!  Further, it is not clear who has the right of way when a bike lane crosses a street — there are not many 4-way stops in Medellin — so by default cars seem to dominate.  And I could not find a city cycling map to know exactly where these lanes are, even though I checked in 3-4 bike shops…  But overall, I was still impressed that people actually bike in this populous South American city!  In fact, some locals say cycling is Colombia’s national sport #2 (though a distant second after football/soccer:)



Alex and Lisa during Bike to Work Day in the GTA. You can tell by the sunshine and warmth, it’s not a recent photo.

P.S. from the editor … though cycling is our favorite kind of clean air commute, can you answer 3 questions about electric vehicles? Thanks!