The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has launched the Hospital Energy Alliance (HEA) to drive energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the healthcare sector. This includes the integration of advanced energy efficiency and renewable technologies in hospital design, construction, retrofit, operations and maintenance.
The DOE says under the new alliance, hospitals and healthcare organizations will have access to the resources and technical expertise available at DoE and its national laboratories to develop and deploy solutions to cut costs, lower energy usage, and reduce pollution.
Hospitals use 836 trillion BTUs of energy annually and have more than 2.5 times the energy intensity and carbon dioxide emissions of commercial office buildings, producing more than 30 pounds of CO2 emissions per square foot, according to the DOE. By reducing the energy intensity in the healthcare industry, it will decrease its carbon footprint, alleviate stress on America’s electric power infrastructure and cut energy costs, says the DoE.
HEA is the third energy alliance launched by DOE as part of its Net-Zero Commercial Building Initiative. In 2008, the Department also joined with large retail stores to form the Retailer Energy Alliance, and in April 2009, DOE joined with commercial real estate companies to introduce the Commercial Real Estate Energy Alliance (CREEA).
According to the 2008 Healthcare Energy Efficiency Indicator study from The American Society for Healthcare Engineering and Johnson Controls, healthcare executives place a higher priority on energy efficiency than executives in other industries. Two thirds of healthcare organizations reported plans to spend capital on energy efficiency this year compared with 56 percent in the multi-industry survey.
Hospitals, on their own, are also implementing other environmentally-friendly programs.
As an example, the MetroWest Medical Center’s Go Green Team in Massachusetts implemented a pilot program to compost cafeteria scraps, turning nearly two tons of food scraps into farm fertilizer, reports The Daily News Tribune. In addition, the hospital started working with NStar to identify energy improvements, hoping to convince management to make a few investments, reports the newspaper.
The Daily News Tribune also reports that other area hospitals are going green. Here’s a quick rundown:
- At the Milford Regional Medical Center, the hospital now uses biodegradable paper products instead of Styrofoam in the cafeteria, encourages paperless communication and started a campaign to keep ordinary items out of biohazard collection bins.
- At Newton-Wellesley Hospital, custodians have switched from string mops to microfiber models, saving 200,000 gallons of water each year. The hospital is also using high-pressure steam to generate some of its own electricity, and is using less toxic cleaning supplies.
- Norwood Hospital, part of the Catholic Caritas Christi Health Care network, is replacing lights and heating equipment with energy efficient models and recycles.
- Marlborough Hospital, looking to reduce consumption and emissions, plans to install solar-powered, automatic faucets and flush controls in its bathrooms, and altered its heating oil boilers to accept cleaner-burning natural gas.