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Sligo University Hospital participates in the October ‘BIG Switch Off’

Sligo University Hospital “switched off” last weekend in the final phase of a major energy saving competition, called the ‘BIG Switch Off’.

The BIG Switch Off is a staff energy awareness campaign run by the Office of Public Works (OPW) as part of the Optimising Power at Work Programme. In partnership with the HSE’s National Health Sustainability Office (NHSO, six hospitals are participating in the competition, aiming to be named Energy Saving Champion by the OPW and the NHSO.

The competition challenges participants to change their approach to energy usage and conserve as much electrical and thermal energy as possible in their hospital during the August and October Bank Holiday weekends. In doing this, the campaign aims to demonstrate the cumulative impact of small individual savings across the workplace.

The competition to find the Energy Saving Champion was launched just before the August Bank Holiday and over that weekend, enough electricity was saved across the six hospitals to power more than 28 standard Irish homes for a month.

Paul Tighe, senior engineer at The Office of Public Works who was responsible for developing The BIG Switch Off competition said, “Our Optimising Power at Work programme has now been running for nearly ten years. Over the last three years we have been working closely with the NHSO, HBS and HSE Estates on installing energy monitoring equipment in hospitals nationally. The BIG Switch Off concept was developed to provide a focused campaign to highlight our presence in this sector and to raise awareness about the way in which staff relate to the energy they consume in the workplace.”

Paul continued, “The BIG Switch Off event is comprised from a series of structured actions, with supporting resources which encourage participation in the programme. The goal is to empower hospital staff to take control of the energy consumed in their workplace. We want to affect a behavioural change, from habitually using energy unnecessarily to habitually saving energy - to Challenge and Save.”

The BIG Switch Off saw each hospital making an extra effort to switch off non – essential equipment in advance of the Bank Holiday weekend. Energy saving teams also monitored heating controls and other electrical equipment.

The level of engagement from the energy teams and staff in each hospital is an extremely important factor when naming the winner. While points will be awarded for energy saved they will also be awarded for the number of engagement activities each hospital participated in. This approach aims to build a lasting sustainable impact through staff engagement. 

Reflecting on The BIG Switch Off competition, Domhnall Mc Loughlin, Assistant General Manager at Sligo University Hospital said, “The hospital is very happy to take part in this campaign in order to create and enhance awareness in relation to energy saving awareness.  Staff throughout the hospital enthusiastically participated in the campaign and contributed to the many initiatives over the weekend. We therefore sincerely thank staff for their input and we are also also indebted to the support of the HSE North West Estates staff, the Office of Public Works and the National Health Sustainability Office for their expertise , guidance and advice with the campaign.”

Commenting on The BIG Switch Off the National Health Sustainability Office said, “We are delighted with the energy savings made so far from the hospitals participating in The BIG Switch Off competition. Although the primary focus of this initiative is on hospital staff’s participation and engagement in conserving energy, all public sector facilities have a target of saving 33% of their baseline energy consumption by 2020. It is great to see that the HSE is on target and has reduced its energy use by almost 21% over the 2009 baseline. We believe initiatives like The BIG Switch Off competition are key in reaching our 2020 energy saving target.”

The competition approach to conserving energy has so far proven an extremely successful programme within The Optimising Power at Work campaign, one that The Office of Public Works hopes to open up to additional public sector campuses next year.

The winning hospital will be named Energy Saving Champion and presented with a handmade, bespoke trophy reflecting the main goals of the campaign; team work, diversity and the summation of small energy saving efforts to making a significant difference in energy conservation.

Photo Caption:
Sligo University Hospital “switched off” last weekend in the final phase of a major energy saving competition, called the ‘BIG Switch Off’. From left: Pauline Kent, Smoking Cessation Co-ordinator; Gary Streete, Waste Management Co-ordinator; Eleanor McCarrick, NUI Galway Medical Academy; Mary P Scanlon, Assistant Catering Manager; Declan Mc Goldrick,Project Manager, HSE Estates; Michael O’Brien, Energy Officer, HSE Estates; Tom Rouse, Production Manager, Catering Dept; Patricia Lee, Services Manager; and Grainne Mc Cann, General Manager

The article above is specific to the following Saolta hospitals:: 
Sligo University Hospital (SUH)