The healthcare industry is a major energy consumer, but a new trend is emerging: “two-sided green” initiatives. These programs combine environmental benefits with significant cost savings.

Why Go Green?

Did you know the global healthcare sector, if considered a country, would be the world’s fifth-largest emitter of greenhouse gas? Fortunately, new legislation like the Inflation Reduction Act incentivizes renewable energy use. This allows hospitals to reduce their environmental impact while saving money on electricity bills!

The Financial Squeeze and the Green Solution

Many hospitals are facing financial difficulties. News like Texas-based Steward Health Care filing for bankruptcy underscores this reality. Finding ways to cut costs is crucial, and healthcare sustainability experts believe renewable energy projects are a key solution.

How Hospitals Are Saving Millions

Let’s take a closer look at how four health systems across the US are saving millions through renewable energy programs:

Kaiser Permanente: This Oakland-based system dove headfirst into solar energy six years ago. They partnered with the California Energy Commission to install a green microgrid at their Richmond hospital. A microgrid is a localized energy system that generates, stores, and releases power ‚Äď even during a power outage from the main grid. Kaiser’s microgrid uses solar panels to produce clean energy and boasts battery storage for up to 3 hours of backup power.
Rame Hemstreet, Kaiser Permanente’s chief energy officer, explains the benefits: “Green microgrids improve facility reliability and continuity of care, while also scaling on-site renewable energy production.” They’re currently building a much larger system at their Ontario, California hospital, generating eight times the solar power and storing nine times the energy of the Richmond microgrid. Kaiser has even expanded this technology to over 100 medical office buildings.

Hemstreet highlights the economic advantages: “Green microgrids allow storing energy during off-peak hours and utilizing it when grid energy is expensive. This translates to cleaner power, increased resiliency, and cost savings ‚Äď a trifecta for energy supply!”

Kaiser’s commitment to green extends to Hawaii. Their West Oahu medical office building, completed in 2021, gets 75% of its power from a green microgrid, resulting in a 25% cost reduction compared to traditional electricity. This translates to nearly $100,000 saved annually and a 400-ton decrease in greenhouse gas emissions.

Hackensack Meridian Health: This New Jersey-based system began its carbon-reduction initiatives a decade ago. Jose Lozano, their chief growth officer, acknowledges, “Healthcare is a major consumer of power and utilities. We understand the strain we put on the grid, so we’ve implemented measures like LED lighting and water-saving plumbing fixtures.”

Last month, Hackensack Meridian took a significant step forward by forging a 30-year renewable energy partnership with Bernhard, an infrastructure firm. This project aims to make Hackensack the owner of the largest solar and battery energy storage system of any non-profit healthcare provider in the nation. They’re installing 50,000 US-made solar panels across their 18 hospitals ‚Äď an area equivalent to 27 football fields!

The project is expected to achieve a 10% decrease in carbon emissions, a 25% decrease in purchased electricity, and 33% more energy savings. While the investment is $134 million, Lozano highlights that $50 million will be covered by Inflation Reduction Act tax credits. “We’re investing to save money in the long run,” he emphasizes.

AdventHealth: Based in central Florida, AdventHealth also announced a major solar project last month. They partnered with ESA, a local solar development firm, to install 7,500 solar panels on their corporate campus buildings and garages. Once operational, the solar microgrid is expected to provide 4,200 megawatt hours of electricity annually, reducing their reliance on traditional electricity by about a third.

John Culver, AdventHealth’s director of sustainability, anticipates project completion by year-end. “We expect to save about $20 million over the next 20 years through cost reduction alone,” he states. “Additionally, local utility mechanisms allow us to sell excess electricity back to the grid, and the IRA provides tax credits for roughly 30% of the total project cost.”

AdventHealth recently announced another renewable energy deal. They’ve partnered with Scout Clean Energy and now receive electricity from their 14,000-acre wind farm in Texas. By 2026, when both the on-site solar and off-site wind programs are operational, they will account for all of AdventHealth’s electricity usage across their entire system. “Together, these projects will generate a massive”.

In the face of escalating environmental challenges and economic pressures, these health systems are not only reducing their carbon footprint but also demonstrating the tangible benefits of embracing renewable energy solutions. As we witness the transformative impact of ‘two-sided green’ initiatives, it becomes increasingly evident that sustainable practices are not just ethically imperative but also financially prudent. Let us continue to champion sustainability in healthcare, ensuring a healthier planet for generations to come.