VIHA named one of Canada’s top green employers

'Green Teams', sustainable building processes help earn Island Health nod on Mediacorp Canada's Greenest Employers list

For the second time in as many years, Island Health has been recognized for its role in promoting environmental sustainability on Vancouver Island.

The health services provider, formerly known as Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) was one of 60 businesses and civic organizations nationwide to earn inclusion on the 2015 Canada’s Greenest Employers list by Mediacorp Canada.

It is the ninth year of recognition for environmental stewardship by the organization that publishes Canada’s Top 100 Employers list and other periodicals.

“Island Health reflects the people who live in our service area and the communities we serve – and our Islands’ strong commitment to environmental sustainability is seen in the activities of our staff, physicians and volunteers every day, both at work and at home,” said Joe Murphy, Vice President, Operations and Support Services.

“Health care services are huge energy users and Island Health’s environmental sustainability activities are going a long way towards reducing our environmental footprint.”

Island Health was specifically recognized for:

• Developing a strategic five-year Sustainable Energy Management Plan which includes a review of buildings’ energy use and progress towards greenhouse gas reduction targets;

• Implementing mechanical and technological upgrades that will deliver savings of 5.5 GWh of energy and save $340,000 in utility costs this year, plus earning $600,000 in incentives;

• Accessing provincial funding for solar thermal installations at four sites, allowing the sun to pre-heat hot water, thus reducing gas consumption and carbon emissions;

• Supporting Green Teams at six facilities that spearhead sustainability initiatives, mentor peers, promote saving energy and resources and promote other initiatives that encourage a culture of sustainability across the health region; and

• Supporting commuting alternatives, including expanded bicycle storage, subsidized bus passes, shuttle service, preferential carpool parking, vehicle charging stations at select sites and active support of Bike-to-Work Week with more than 1,000 employees Island-wide participating in the annual event.

Island Health’s goal is to reduce emissions by 33 per cent below 2007 levels by 2020.

Greenhouse gas emissions dropped five per cent over the last year and between 2006-2013 Island Health saved a cumulative $2.75 million in energy costs.

All of its new buildings — including the ongoing North Island Hospitals projects in Campbell River and Comox — will have LEED Gold certification.

In 2014, it was named the No. 1 Power Smart Partner by BC Hydro.