New energy efficiency initiative for Ontario’s health care sector

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The Canadian Coalition for Green Health Care and strategic partner, the Ontario Chapter of the Canadian Healthcare Engineering Society, together with technical partner, ICF Marbek, have a new energy conservation initiative officially launching in 2014.

Funded by the Ontario Power Authority (OPA), the initiative is part of province-wide capability-building aimed at providing resources directly to electricity customers through sector-based organizations.

Over the past five months, the project team consulted extensively with health care stakeholders and energy management colleagues across Ontario to ensure it crafted all necessary elements into what is now known as the HealthCare Energy Leaders Ontario (HELO) initiative.

With the framework now complete, Account Managers are being hired and deployed across the province to provide onsite energy reduction assistance to eligible Ontario health care facilities.

Speaking for the Coalition, Executive Director Linda Varangu states, “The opportunity for conservation and demand management within the hospital sector is vast and we feel that our goal is in perfect alignment with the OPA’s: to have health care facilities realize energy savings as soon as possible, and assist in inciting a change in business culture from one of consumption to that of conservation and demand management.”   Electricity comprises approximately 30 per cent of energy used in the sector. However, the relatively high cost of electricity demands over half of a typical energy budget. Natural gas and other heating fuels comprise the remainder.

Research by partner ICF Marbek suggests hospitals in Ontario’s 14 Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) have the potential to reduce electricity consumption by approximately eight per cent with even higher savings achievable for natural gas.

Ray Racette, President of the Canadian College of Health Leaders explains, “Financial challenges are the most pressing issues facing Canada’s health system and hospital CEOs. With limited new money coming to healthcare, it makes sense that we strive to find savings wherever we can. The HELO program can help our health care organizations realize savings in facility operating costs, thereby freeing up valuable funds for the delivery of patient care.”

Under the HELO initiative, health care facilities operating in Ontario, including hospitals, long-term care facilities, and community health centres are eligible for different types of service with some restrictions.

Hospitals already receiving funding for an embedded energy manager through their local electric utility are ineligible, as are municipally funded long-term care homes since they are served by other electricity-saving programs available in Ontario.

All participants have access to Basic Support which includes guidance on accessing electric utility incentives, project implementation advice, educational webinars and e-newsletters, as well as access to online tools and resources.

Those sites qualifying for Custom Support are eligible to receive assistance identifying energy efficiency opportunities, support developing the business case for projects, and help with implementation. Depending on participant needs, specific services may include a free walk-through audit, assistance with utility data analysis and energy performance benchmarking or support accessing incentives and funding.

JJ Knott, past President of CHES National, and Director, Plant Operations at Norfolk General Hospital in Simcoe, Ontario has been hired to help the Coalition lead the delivery of energy efficiency activities.   “As energy efficiency lead on this project, I am simply ecstatic about its launch,” says Knott, “and am thankful that Norfolk General Hospital sees the value in such a project and has agreed to allow me to work with the team that is overseeing delivery of the HELO initiative.”

What does all this mean for those involved in health care facility and energy management? An initiative developed from the inside out by a team intimate with the challenges and opportunities faced each day in a health care setting that are here to help.

“After many long months of planning, we’ve finally been able to make it happen,” says Coalition Chair, Kady Cowan. “This project dovetails nicely with many other projects the Coalition has brought to the sector such as the new Canadian Green Health Care Revolving Fund to help finance energy efficiency projects; our EcoAction project with Environment Canada to help the sector reduce its GHG emissions and water use, and our climate change resiliency project with the Nova Scotia Department of the Environment and Health Canada which helps health care facilities to better prepare for the negative effects of climate change including energy-related initiatives.”

To learn more about participating in this new Ontario health care initiative, visit: www.greenhealthcare.ca/HELO  or contact Kent Waddington – kent@greenhealthcare.ca at 1-888-589-HELO (4356)