Ohio Hospitals’ Energy Conservation Promotes Health, Cut Costs

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Posted: Tuesday, June 13, 2017 8:36 pm | Updated: 1:56 pm, Wed Jun 14, 2017.

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Four Ohio health organizations , Cleveland Clinic, Highland District Hospital, ProMedica and University Hospitals, successfully implemented energy reduction initiatives that increased air quality, improved patient health and reduced operating expenses.

Their successes were published in Ohio Healthier Hospitals: A Collection of Energy Case Studies, a new report from Health Care Without Harm and Practice Greenhealth released during the Ohio Hospital Association’s 100th Annual Meeting.

Representing around 20 percent of patient beds across the state, these two health systems and two hospitals demonstrated that a variety of energy initiatives ranging from no/low cost to high investment can have measurable impact on the health of their patients, communities and cost savings.

To help meet its $12 million energy demand reduction target, Cleveland Clinic reduced operating room air exchange rates in one pilot facility during nonsurgical periods back down to recommended levels, saving $250,000 annually.

Highland District Hospital, a critical access hospital, implemented a combination of projects and operational improvements that increased its ENERGY STAR rating to 64 and resulted in significant cost savings, including more than $20,000 in rebates from their local electric utility.

ProMedica Wildwood Orthopaedic and Spine Hospital installed an advanced combined heat and power system using two Capstone C65 micro-turbine. With the system in its second year of continuous operation, ProMedica has achieved the energy and greenhouse gas reduction goals established during the feasibility and design process.

University Hospitals created the UH Employee Energy Challenge to inspire employees to adopt energy saving actions at home and at work. More than 450 employees from a wide variety of departments and position levels pledged 2,071 energy saving actions at work.

The facilities are participants in the Ohio Hospital Association’s Energy and Sustainability program. Rick Sites, OHA’s regulatory counsel, said the organization’s energy program assists hospitals in becoming more energy efficient, improving the overall environmental and public health of their communities while also reducing energy expenses by providing energy audits and benchmarking tools in addition to regulatory support.

Working alongside OHA, the two health systems and two hospitals are also participants in the Healthier Hospitals Initiative, a collaborative of leading health care institutions united to help speed the health care sector toward environmental sustainability and improved population health. The Healthier Hospitals Initiative is a coordinated, sector-wide approach based on the premise that how hospitals are designed, built, and operated can help achieve the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Triple Aim, better care for individuals, improved health for populations and reduced per capita costs.

"Senior-level leadership was instrumental in building clean energy programs within each hospital," said Gary Cohen, founder and president of Health Care Without Harm. "Ohio suffers from some of worst air pollution in the country and, as we’ve seen with these four leaders, health care is in a unique position to address this major public health threat."

A 2011 report from the Natural Resources Defense Council found that Ohio had the most toxic air pollution from coal and oil power plants of any state in the country. Ohio’s power plants released 44.5 million pounds of harmful chemicals in 2009, accounting for 12 percent of U.S. industrial air pollution. The state also led the country in mercury air pollution.

The American Lung Association’s 2015 State of the Air found that while the air in Ohio has improved over the past 15 years, more work needs to be done. Cleveland, Akron, Canton, Cincinnati and Dayton still rank in the worst 10 cities for year-round particle pollution. As of 2014, there were nearly 200,000 children and 680,000 adults with asthma at high risk from air pollution in Ohio.

Although 89,000 people work in clean energy in Ohio, recent setbacks on the state’s energy policies threaten the sector’s growth. Passed in 2014, Senate Bill 310 froze Ohio’s renewable and energy efficiency standards and as a result, some Ohio clean energy companies are now developing projects outside of the state.

"Investments in clean energy for Ohio’s hospitals will also address a range of health issues that plague many Ohio residents," said Mr. Cohen. "The more we move away from coal and other fossil fuels to power our economy, the healthier our communities, our future, will be."

SOURCE: Healthier Hospitals Initiative

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