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“We never thought we’d save THIS much”: Big win for sustainability at the Riverside Campus

Ron Drummond, The Ottawa Hospital’s Executive Director of Capital Projects and Facility Management, meets with Don Taggart, Manager of Property Operations, at the Riverside Campus.

Ron Drummond has spent nearly his entire career in energy and facility management. But even he’s shocked at the sheer magnitude of the energy savings at the Riverside Campus over the past year and a half.

“We never thought we’d save THIS much,” reports Ron, The Ottawa Hospital’s Executive Director of Capital Projects and Facility Management. “In late 2022, we made some low-cost investments in our equipment to improve efficiency, and I’ve never seen a low-cost initiative deliver results like these.”

Just how much is Ron talking about?

The Riverside Campus, the smallest of The Ottawa Hospital’s three main campuses, has reduced natural gas consumption by more than 55 per cent year over year ever since Ron and his team made some changes in November 2022. That’s an annual carbon emissions savings of about 964 t-CO2e — or the equivalent of taking 229 cars off the road for a year. These savings have caused the Riverside’s ENERGY STAR score to skyrocket from 69 to 87 — a score of 50 represents median energy performance, while a score of 75 or higher indicates that a building is a top performer.

“For me, this initiative is really about patient care,” says Ron. “We’re now saving about $160,000 a year on natural gas — and that’s money that the hospital can invest in other areas to make sure our patients are taken care of.”

So, what’s the team’s secret (green) sauce?

“Empowering your front-line workers to bring up issues is the crux of an environmentally sustainable and high-performing organization,” Ron reveals. “They’re the ones who are closest to the action.”

In this case, Ron saw that the campus wasn’t as energy efficient as it could be and had questions for his team — and his front-line crew had some ideas on how to improve steam operations, if provided some funding.

“Don Taggart, Scott Wallace, and the rest of the engineering team know the systems the best, and they’re the ones that identified those core pieces of equipment that weren’t running efficiently,” says Ron.

Don Taggart, Manager of Property Operations, and Ron Drummond, The Ottawa Hospital’s Executive Director of Capital Projects and Facility Management, at the Riverside Campus.
Don Taggart (left), Manager of Property Operations, and Ron Drummond (right), The Ottawa Hospital’s Executive Director of Capital Projects and Facility Management, at the Riverside Campus.

“We made some investments in repairing and fine-tuning the boiler system,” explains Scott Wallace, Shift Engineer.

“We also replaced a previously inaccessible heat exchanger and automated its control to improve efficiency,” reports Don Taggart, Manager of Property Operations. “The heat exchanger and the boiler were the big ones, but we also found a few other ways to improve efficiency — and we’re always on the lookout for more.”

The boiler system and heat exchanger
The boiler system (left) and the heat exchanger (right).

Modern sustainability in a new state-of-the-art hospital

Sustainability is at the forefront of all design considerations for The Ottawa Hospital’s new campus and will integrate into the design of the buildings, landscape and social spaces. Check out this article to learn more.


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