EcoAction success stories: hospitals healing the environment

Hospital Pipes
Hospitals are among the most energy-intensive buildings in Canadian communities. In fact, some Ontario hospitals are so large they have the population of a small town! With so much potential to save energy Ontario hospitals are being challenged to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and the harmful air emissions they generate. This call to action has brought together facility managers to learn more about energy efficiency and at the same time get the technical guidance and tools they need to meet their environmental goals.

Let’s get this program started!

Managers were resistant to taking action because they felt they did not have the time, information, resources or expertise to improve the energy efficiency of their facilities. In response, the Challenge invited 15 facility managers to join a support network of their peers. Together, they would participate in monthly teleconference calls to share ideas, methods and techniques that they could implement at their individual facilities. 

New technologies

Guests were also invited to present information about new emissions-saving technologies that would help managers take concrete actions. For instance, Blue-Zone, an Ontario-based company, showed managers they could capture operating room anaesthetic gases routinely vented into our atmosphere. Recapturing these medical gases translates into significant air emissions savings, considering they are over 1000 times more harmful to our climate than an equal volume of carbon dioxide.

Where are they now?

The original 15 facility managers remain active in search of new ways of improving their hospitals’ environmental performance. In fact, participating facility managers have broadened the scope of the Challenge to include ways of reducing their personal greenhouse gas and air emissions at home and at work.

Naming the challenge

Ontario hospitals involved in the Challenge were invited to come up with a slogan for the program. The winning entry, “Hospitals Healing the Environment”, is now being used on promotional materials such as posters and hemp shopping bags, to help spread the word. Today, the Challenge has evolved and now aims to reach all hospital employees so they too can do their part.

Today’s challenge

Interest in the work started by the Challenge continues to spread by word-of-mouth among hospitals in Ontario and elsewhere. Examples of how facility managers can make a difference are profiled in a set of success stories which focus on the concrete actions implemented by four key hospitals. Examples of how managers can lead by example have heighten the interest among fellow hospital facility mangers. They also inspire us to learn that hospitals dedicated to patient care can play an important role in healing our local environment.

“The participants asked for additional conference calls and help with finding a way to continue their network. This underscores the value of regular communication among facilities personnel. As non-medical staff, they are a minority in their institutions, but critical to environmental performance.” - Ron Shimizu, Canadian Centre for Pollution Prevention

By the numbers

Number of hospitals taking the Challenge
Greenhouse gas reduction strategies identified by participating hospitals
Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (in tonnes) by hospitals participating in the Challenge

Why target hospitals?

  • Hospitals operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • They use a host of energy-consuming systems, equipment and devices
  • They use a number of substances that can be harmful to the environment
  • They require transportation for people, supplies and samples
  • They have special waste-disposal needs.
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