While overseeing energy efficiency projects at the nation’s largest public health system may seem like a daunting task to some, for Cyril Toussaint, director of energy management and sustainability at NYC Health + Hospitals, it is both a challenge and opportunity to serve his community, a lifelong role he has relished. While he never set out to get into a career in energy management, the path that led him there—economics and public policy—enabled him to craft a profession in which he has performed so admirably—using his skills in communication, collaboration, strategic analysis, and critical thinking in the service of energy efficiency initiatives—that the Association of Energy Engineers named him Energy Manager of the Year in the northeast region of the US for 2017.
What He Does Day to Day
“I oversee projects in the feasibility study and design development phases as well as in the construction and installation phases, all of which take place across our health system’s 11 acute care facilities, five post-acute facilities, and six community health centers,” says Toussaint. Recent energy efficiency projects include installing interior and exterior lighting and control upgrades, replacing or upgrading boiler plants, installing new cogeneration systems, and implementing steam-trap replacement programs. Toussaint—along with two energy managers and an energy analyst—works diligently to ensure that all of NYC Health + Hospitals’ energy efficiency projects are on track and on time while ensuring that collaborating partners, including the NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services, New York Power Authority, Con Edison, National Grid, and New York State Energy Research & Development Authority, are afforded the proper attention and support.
What Led Him to This Line of Work
“My first job out of Fordham University’s graduate school—where I received training to become a financial economist—was with a think tank, where I worked with other economists to develop JOBSTART Demonstration, a public policy program aimed at providing job opportunities and alternative skills and training to unemployed youth and high school dropouts. I have always been driven to utilize my economist training to benefit society,” notes Toussaint. When he took employment 25 years ago at NYC Health + Hospitals, he first worked in strategic planning and then in facilities development, working closely with engineers and policy directors while also monitoring construction projects across the health system. “That experience has prepared me well for my current role as director of energy management and sustainability,” notes Toussaint. “I have always enjoyed a challenge, so when I was presented with the opportunity to develop an energy unit that would put our public health system on track to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050—a mandate by New York City’s mayor—I readily accepted. My knowledge of and experience with our facilities and their many construction projects have prepared me well for the challenge.”
What He Likes Best About His Work
“I enjoy achieving and oftentimes surpassing the specific goals established for our energy unit team,” notes Toussaint. “At NYC Health + Hospitals, we are recording significant outcomes, including material reductions in energy consumption and operational costs, reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and the implementation of new energy savings initiatives. I spearhead the corporate effort to install renewable technologies at facilities and I relish working with the staff at each facility. Each day affords me new opportunities to enhance the lives of my fellow New Yorkers.”
His Biggest Challenges
“Identifying energy efficiency projects, securing project financing, monitoring projects from start to finish—none of these is easy,” notes Toussaint. “In addition, we need to provide support to operational staff at each facility to ensure that our projects follow procedures so that the comfort and safety of our patients, visitors, and staff are not compromised. The path to reducing energy consumption and embracing renewable energy technologies does not come without significant challenges. I cannot do this alone.” Toussaint relies on strong working relationships with a range of state and city agencies as well as with his own staff at all facilities. “My days are never too long, but the rewards of seeing NYC Health + Hospitals in the vanguard of energy-efficient measures make it all worthwhile,” he says.