Greener Days Ahead

In 2011 CHEO received a grant to assess its energy utilization and find ways to make the hospital greener. With the support of the Ontario government, the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) established a fund to help Ontario’s hospitals improve their environmental performance and reduce operating costs through the implementation of “green” projects.

The energy audit completed in summer 2011 identified further savings CHEO could make by conversion of light fixtures to more energy efficient ballasts and lamps. We are in the process of applying for incentive funding from the local utility of several tens of thousands of dollars towards the cost of retrofitting some 600 fixtures and replacing nearly 14,000 fluorescent tubes.

CHEO's Emergency Department began looking for innovative ways to reduce hospital waste in September of 2010. CHEO spends more than $6 million a year on disposable supplies. This is due in part to the use of disposable items to ensure sterility and safety for patients. A pilot project designed to cut down on waste examined whether disposable products were any safer than products that are just cleaned by staff. After an assessment, the Emergency Department found some products, such as the paper sleeves that are placed over examination tables for each new patient, were of questionable value. During the pilot project, the Emergency Department instead placed a sign letting patients know the exam tables were being cleaned and sterilized between patients. Surveys conducted before and after showed the change had little impact on the patients' comfort level with the cleanliness of the exam room. Prior to the pilot project, CHEO’s Emergency Department unit alone was using about 2,600 to 3,000 rolls of the paper sleeves. Eliminating them over a year would save about $6,000 and eliminate a couple tonnes of paper waste. The pilot project will now be evaluated and CHEO is hoping some of the changes made can be implemented across the hospital and be a model for the rest of the province and country.