St. Michael's Hospital (left) and the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute

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Unity Health Toronto is building a culture and community around sustainability, as the hospital network prioritizes sustainability in its efforts to remain a leader in the energy management and greenhouse gas emission reductions space.

At Unity Health Toronto, sustainability is being integrated into all areas of the hospital network – from patient care and recycling medical equipment, to waste diversion and recognizing achievements across the board – led by a dedicated team and passionate individuals throughout the organization.

“Sustainability is not a new strategy,” said Katelyn Poyntz, Director of Project Engineering & Energy Engineering and Plant Services at Unity Health Toronto. “We’re really trying to build momentum around it by integrating it with everything that we do.”

As part of its overall strategy, Unity Health Toronto is committed to being stewards of the environment by reducing the impact we have on the planet. The network has set a greenhouse gas reductions target of 50 per cent for building and operations related emissions – without purchasing carbon offsets.

“If we really want to save patients in the long term, then we need to think about how we’re delivering care, and how to deliver it in a sustainable way,” said Poyntz. “We also need to make sure that we’re designing and building our facilities to withstand the impacts of climate change.”

April 22 marks Earth Day, an annual global event to raise awareness for the importance of environmental conservation and sustainability, encouraging us to come together and take action for a healthier planet and a brighter future.

“It’s really inspiring to work with so many passionate Sustainability Champions, who want to create change in their realm of work,” said Sharon Au, Sustainability Project Manager, Engineering and Plant Services at Unity Health Toronto.

“What can you do to make a positive impact on the health of our people and the planet for generations to come? I hope that one day, sustainability will just become a reflex in everything we do.”

Some recent key sustainability initiatives from Unity Health Toronto include:

  • Spotlight on Sustainability, Our Shared Values Award – A new recognition award for staff, to highlight sustainability actions being taken across the network.
  • Coolfood Pledge – An organization-wide greenhouse gas emissions commitment to achieve a science-based target to reduce the climate impact of the food we serve.
  • Compassionate Equipment Recycling Program – A program that redistributes mobility equipment from the Houses of Providence to donate to patients in need at our acute care sites.
  • Strategic Plan – Incorporating strategic goals for sustainability in 2024-25.
  • Energy Construction Guidelines – The Energy Team has developed Energy Construction Guidelines to guide the selection and installation of lighting, HVAC and pumps, air handling units, and building envelope according to best practices.
  • Construction and Renovation Waste Diversion – A Planning and Redevelopment Sustainability Subcommittee came together to formalize a process for the diversion of waste from construction and renovation projects for reuse, donation, and/or recycling.
    • 19,692 tonnes of concrete and brick, 491 tonnes of steel and five tonnes of aluminum have been already recycled from the Shuter Wing demolition site.

 “As you can see from the vast examples of recent initiatives, sustainability has no bounds,” said Au. “No matter your department or role, I encourage you to view your work through a sustainability lens.”

For a more in depth look at what we’ve been up to, see our 2022-23 Annual Sustainability Report and visit Sustainability – Unity Health Toronto to learn more about sustainability at Unity Health Toronto.