Providence healthcare earns incentive rebate for energy efficiency

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Providence Healthcare was recently presented with a cheque for over $30,000 from Enbridge Gas Distribution – the largest incentive rebate awarded by the utility company to a hospital for 2007. An extensive audit of the steam piping network, the replacement of defective steam traps, and the removal of a defective boiler from operation are just a few of the key energy-saving initiatives that led to the reward. “It has been a remarkable team effort,” says Providence’s Director, Environmental Services, Tom Clancey. “Energy efficiency is just one part of our facility-wide effort to become more ‘green’.”

Providence Healthcare’s 600,000 square-foot facility sits on 11 acres in Toronto’s east end. It is home to Providence Hospital, one of Ontario’s largest rehabilitation and complex continuing care facilities; the Cardinal Ambrozic Houses of Providence, a long-term care home for 288 residents; and Providence Community Centre, which specializes in community outreach and support. “Through the efforts of our staff, we have seen improvements in a number of areas,” adds Clancey. “For 2007, Providence Healthcare was one of only four hospitals in the 31-member Greening Health Care group in Ontario to achieve gas/steam, electricity and water savings of over five per cent compared to 2006.”

As a member of the Greening Health Care (GHC) group, Providence is able to assess its energy and environmental performance, and plan for improvements using an online building-performance management system. “Based on the energy savings that we were seeing through these reports, we thought we could be eligible for a performance-based incentive program offered through Enbridge Gas Distribution,” says Clancey.

Providence worked with Enerlife Consulting – an organization retained by the GHC initiative to obtain utility information on behalf of its members – to compare monthly energy meter readings in 2007 with those from 2006. “We wanted to confirm that the savings in gas consumption were directly related to the improvement projects that we implemented in 2007,” explains Clancey.

“In 2007, we did a complete audit of our steam piping network to determine where we could save on steam consumption,” says Building Services Manager, Martin Oseni, who led the initiative for Providence. “We had all major leaks repaired, and all large, defective steam valves replaced. The audit involved the inspection of 183 steam traps, and all units found defective were also replaced.

“A defective boiler, which was wasting steam, was removed from service, but operations continued with the remaining three boilers, operating at low-fire,” adds Oseni.

The results of these energy-saving actions were dramatic. In 2007, Providence saved 305,112 cubic meters of gas (a 15.2 per cent improvement over 2006), and realized a cost savings of $164,183. It also helped reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 376 tonnes, the equivalent of taking 83 cars off the road for one year.

Enbridge Gas Distribution, a GHC sponsor, developed a reporting template that enables them to provide energy efficiency incentives to participating members. Working with Enerlife Consulting, Providence Healthcare applied for, and received, an incentive rebate of $30,511 for natural gas savings in 2007.

 Success in waste reduction

Providence Healthcare’s ‘green’ successes go beyond energy savings. Since 2006, Providence Healthcare has almost doubled its recycling rate. Three years ago, only 21 per cent of all waste was diverted from landfill to recycling (paper, glass, cans, food waste, cardboard, paper fibre). Following the implementation of several front-line initiatives, that amount almost doubled. Today, Providence diverts 41 per cent of waste from landfill to recycling programs.

One of those front-line initiatives started on Providence Hospital’s Palliative Care unit, where a green-team task force was formed to review the results of a facility-wide waste audit. The team discovered that the vast majority of items being disposed of in the waste containers should have been put in containers designated for recycling. They developed the simplest, most practical and sustainable solution: convert the waste containers in patient rooms to recycling containers. “The difference that change made was immediate and dramatic,” says Clancey. “The amount of waste being removed from the hospital has reduced significantly.”

“Our core value of ‘social responsibility’ has been brought to life through the efforts of our staff who demonstrate our definition of this value: ‘the prudent use of resources given to us in trust.’ It’s great to be rewarded for it in such a tangible way,” says Clancey.