Healthy Living in the North

“Bright Ideas” from the northeast!

Following the success of the “bright ideas” campaign in the northwest region, Northern Health’s energy team launched the campaign in the northeast region in June. Like last time, the ideas for conservation were so great and diverse that I wanted to share them with you!

Like their colleagues in northwest B.C., staff from the northeast part of our region were recently asked to contribute “bright ideas” they had for energy-saving opportunities or other sustainability-related improvements in their workplace. The diversity and quality of ideas that we received were truly impressive! I’m excited to share these ideas to inspire and motivate your own creative energy-saving thinking and want to thank everyone who contributed an idea!

All of the entries I saw demonstrated a strong awareness of energy conservation and sustainability in the workplace. How might you conserve energy at home or at work?

Pie chart displaying campaign themes

The “Bright Ideas” for conservation that Les heard from Northern Health staff in the northeast region represented nine major themes, with ideas for action on lighting, waste, and heating & air conditioning leading the way.

Here’s a summary of the results:

  • 36 total entries (many of which included multiple ideas!)
  • 9 major themes emerged: lighting, waste & recycling, heating and cooling (HVAC), water, equipment, computers, carpooling, patient care and security.

Here’s a sample of some of the great ideas that were submitted:

From staff in Fort St. John:

Have offices compete with energy use and energy savings. Quarterly, release the amount of money and energy saved per office to all sites [and] use competition as a way to reduce energy use in the office.

Replacing [our large fridge] with a smaller energy efficient model would lead to energy savings and space savings!

From a staff member in Dawson Creek:

Upgrade light switches to motion activated switches, including in patient rooms.

Have signs in rooms or on the door as we are leaving a room saying please turn out the light. I think that a little reminder as you leave the room will help remind those who tend to forget.

A staff member in Hudson’s Hope had some similar “bright ideas” about turning lights off.

From a staff member in Fort Nelson:

Turn off all computers when not in use for an extended period of time.

Composting for all food scraps.

If one is using individual air conditioning/heating, turn off when space isn’t in use or up so it doesn’t come on when one is not there.

Install foot pedals for all sinks so they turn off once one isn’t using it.

Recycling program for all facilities.

Replace all paper towel with efficient hand driers.

Require all companies that ship to us to use as little packaging as possible.

I’m wrapping up the Bright Ideas campaign for the last of Northern Health’s three areas – the Northern Interior – now. Stay tuned for the results!

Les Sluggett

About Les Sluggett

Les Sluggett is Northern Health’s energy manager, which sees him supporting facility managers in Northern Health to explore and understand energy conservation through technologies and programs. His efforts help facilities personnel to be more energy efficient so that patients are comfortable in a reliable and safe environment. In his spare time, Les attends his local YMCA or heads outdoors skiing in the winter and canoeing & travelling in the summer. At home as at work, Les tries to reduce waste and be more energy efficient.

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A healthy environment benefits all!

Booth in the hospital with energy use questions.

Northern Health is committed to reducing energy use and improving efficiency in facilities. How do you conserve energy at home?

British Columbia is one of the most beautiful places on the planet, and we at Northern Health are aware of our impact on the environment. If you have been to Northern Health facilities recently, you might have noticed some of the energy-saving practices we have been implementing and, with the help of all Northern Health staff, we want to continue to be conscientious caretakers of the environment.

Where economically and practically feasible, we are continuing to search for ways to be more environmentally aware. Being considerate of the ecological cost of operations will benefit not only Northern Health as an organization, but also our communities, patients, and staff. The choices we make today impact the long term – and we want to be sure that we can keep enjoying the incredible quality of life here in northern B.C.!

Energy and environmental sustainability

Energy conservation efforts at Northern Health are supported by BC Hydro and FortisBC, both through supporting our energy management team and through incentives for equipment upgrades. The focus is to reduce energy use, reduce operating costs, and improve the efficiency of facilities.

We can see this energy management clearly in renovations and upgrades like lighting changes, boiler improvements, and improved building controls and programs. Energy improvement is also part of the design of new construction projects like the recently-opened Lakes District Hospital and Health Centre in Burns Lake.

Northern Health energy performance

The process of improving energy use in facilities typically begins with a detailed energy study. Engineers visit our facilities to review their situation and to propose energy conservation measures.

Since 2011, energy studies have been carried out at 30 facilities across northern B.C.

The biggest overall project, and one of the first, was a massive lighting upgrade across all of Northern Health. All of the incandescent bulbs and old fluorescent fixtures were replaced with more efficient fixtures and bulbs.

Since then, new technology such as LEDs, more efficient boilers, automated dampers, schedules to reduce heating at night in unoccupied areas, motion sensors in offices, and reduced lighting in hallways and stairways continue to be introduced to facilities.

The economic results

With the changes so far, Northern Health has reduced electricity consumption by 10% and natural gas consumption by 15%. This translates as dollars that can be spent on health care instead of energy.

Enough electricity has been saved each year to power more than 500 houses. Annual natural gas savings would provide enough fuel for 10,000 round trips between Prince George and Edmonton in a family-sized sedan.

With the measures we’ve implemented since January 2010, Northern Health has been able to avoid $5 million in energy costs!

What else are we doing?

  • Joining with partners and collaborating with other health authorities to reduce energy usage and implement more sustainable practices.
  • Investigating emerging technologies for possible implementation with Northern Health.
  • Remaining current on environmental trends.
  • Giving preference to using environmentally sensitive products and services.
  • Continuing with Power Smart initiatives like the Continuous Optimization Program.

What can you do?

Northern Health cares about our patients, staff and the natural resources of our beautiful province, and we want to continue to ensure the health of all!

As Northern Health continues to operate as an environmentally-conscientious member of the northern B.C. community, we ask everyone to help us achieve our goals! We want to create a sustainable future and a healthy, happy lifestyle for all, because Northern Health Matters!

Read more about Northern Health’s Green Initiatives.

Les Sluggett

About Les Sluggett

Les Sluggett is Northern Health’s energy manager, which sees him supporting facility managers in Northern Health to explore and understand energy conservation through technologies and programs. His efforts help facilities personnel to be more energy efficient so that patients are comfortable in a reliable and safe environment. In his spare time, Les attends his local YMCA or heads outdoors skiing in the winter and canoeing & travelling in the summer. At home as at work, Les tries to reduce waste and be more energy efficient.

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