VIHA Behaviour Change Program Delivers Savings - Its Good to be Green


As part of their commitment to holistic energy management, the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) created a behavioural change program in 2010 that got staff excited and engaged in energy conservation while delivering measurable energy savings.

VIHA serves a diverse geographical area of 56,000 square kilometres and provides health care to over 765,000 people on Vancouver Island, the islands of the Georgia Strait, and the mainland communities north of Powell River and south of Rivers Inlet. From large acute facilities in Victoria to community hospitals in Nanaimo to a health unit in Alert Bay, VIHA manages more than 150 health care facilities and 7,800 patient beds. In each facility,staff fulfill a myriad of different roles including housekeeping, security, administrative support, labs and medical imaging services and clinical, direct patient care. The challenge was to find a way to engage VIHA staff who areworking in a large geographic region in a variety of different departments to take action on energy conservation.

Workers at VIHA Good to be green program

Program Overview

As a first step, Prism Engineering led a four hour Workplace Conservation Awareness workshop that brought together a group of staff from key departments to help brainstorm ideas and provide feedback on the overall structure of the program. The group chose to focus on two key behaviours: turning off lights and monitors. VIHA staff helped to identify the barriers that prevent staff adopting new desired behaviours and to design strategies that would encourage and motivate people to change. From these initial ideas Prism worked with VIHA's Energy Management Team to devise an Action Plan for the program. Five pilot sites were selected to participate in the first year to test out the strategies.

Closing the Loop with Energy Walkabouts

The Electrical Supervisor at Campbell River Hospital attended the Green Team kick-off meeting and participated in the site energy walkabouts. As a result of what he and the other Green Team members observed, he undertook the following actions at the site:

  • Installed over 20 motion sensors around the hospital including the lab lunchroom, boiler room shop, and cafeteria dining area.
  • Converted all parking lot lighting to astronomical timer from photocell which prevents the lighting to energize during cloudy overcast days and provides automatic daylight savings time adjustment.
  • Installed new LED exterior light fixtures with timer control
  • Reduced lighting in sample office by 50%

The activities and initiatives that were developed are a great example of how behaviour change tools and techniques can deliver cost-effective energy savings and provide a means to reduce environmental impact from operations. With support from Prism Engineering, VIHA organized BC Hydro Outreach Team visits at each site, conducted Turn It Off Tours designed to engage staff in short conversations about turning off lights and monitors and held a contest to drive traffic to BC Hydro's Workplace Tune-Up Tool.

VIHA started Green Teams at each of the five pilot sites and held initial Green Team kick-off workshops which allowed each team to identify what type of activities they would like to do to encourage staff to save energy. Prism and the VIHA Energy Staff supported the Green Teams as they put on Turn Off the Lights campaigns email and sticker campaigns, green cupcake events and light bulb exchange days to raise awareness about energy conservation. Two sites put on "Get Caught Green Handed" campaigns where Green Team members handed out contest entry forms to people who were making green decisions. Names weredrawn in a weekly raffle for prizes such as Good to be Green clothing and water bottles.

Green Team members were also trained to complete energy walkabouts, using a checklist of opportunities developed by VIHA Energy Manager, Joe Ciarniello. One Green Team Member reported, "I did a quick audit of the light that we have in the OR. There are 57[lights], all of which were ON the first evening! After mentioning it at morning report, I counted each evening at the same time and the lights were reduced by 10-15%. This may just be temporary, but I am tenacious, so will keep nagging away!" The VIHA Energy Management Team kept theTurn it Off message fresh in the staff newsletter, The Current, with monthly Green Tips and articles that highlighted the work they were doing. They have also produced a Greening our Practice corporate video, which will be used in a new hires orientation and elsewhere to highlight how VIHA is taking action to go green.

Initial results from one of the smaller extended care facilities shows a 9% reduction in energy consumption after the launch of the Turn it Off campaigns at that facility in the first year of the program. Over a year, this 9% reduction in electricity from the one site would be enough to power more than sixBC homes and is worth $4,500 in annual savings to VIHA.


First Quarter

  • Prism led program workshop to identify target behaviours and strategies
  • Pre-program survey of staff
  • Newsletter article and Monthly Green Tips in The Current

Second Quarter

  • Recruited and engaged sites
  • Newsletter article and Monthly Green Tips in The Current
  • Maintain updates to Green VIHA website
  • Program branding: Good to be Green logo refresh

Third Quarter

  • Green Team kick off meetings to identify Turn it Off campaign activities
  • Turn it Off tours conducted by Energy Team staff
  • Workplace Tune-Up Tool contest for Canucks Jersey
  • BC Hydro Outreach Team visits
  • Green Team members conduct energy walkabouts
  • Newsletter article and Monthly Green Tips in The Current

Fourth Quarter

  • Support Green Team campaigns and meetings: Light bulb exchanges, sticker campaigns, poster campaigns, email campaigns
  • Green Team members conduct energy walkabouts
  • Post program survey
  • Newsletter article and Monthly Green Tips in The Current
  • Create and deliver energy conservation presentation for staff audience
  • Greening our Practice video celebrating work of Green Teams and organization
  • Planning for year two of program
  • Use Community Based Social Marketing and incorporate Volunteer Management Techniques.
  • Start simple: a couple behaviours and several pilot sites.
  • Spend the time to secure buy-in from all levels, not just senior management.
  • Don't under estimate the importance of person to person contact and behaviour modeling
  • Programs that engage staff need structure and support, but the flexibility to allow staff to take ownership.


The success of the program lies in the use of Community Based Social Marketing Techniques which emphasizes the importance of person to person contact in fostering new behaviours. The Green Team members championed the key messages and modeled the new behaviours to other staff in their department.The program also achieved a balance between providing enough structure and resources for the teams to feel they were supported and offering the flexibility for the members to take ownership of the campaigns.

VIHA staff were keen to make changes in their workplace and this program provided the space and support to allow them to take action.

Recognition: Prism Engineering's facilitation role in this project was sponsored by BC Hydro's Workplace Conservation Awareness (WCA) program to encourage behavioural change. Prism worked with all BC Health Authorities to design and implement customized behaviour change programs.