St. Luke's Hospital and Health Network, Bethlehem, Pa., has eliminated 2,900 tons of carbon dioxide from its carbon footprint by purchasing 10 percent of its electricity from renewable sources acquired through an online reverse auction.

The system also avoided more than $1 million in annual electricity purchase costs by using the reverse auction, a Web-based service operated on the World Energy Exchange ( The goal of the auction is to help hospitals buy energy more efficiently.

"The reverse auction process enabled us to buy our electricity from renewable sources for the same price as traditional electricity generated from fossil fuels," says Larry Jennings, director of purchasing and contracting at St. Luke's. Jennings adds that buying energy from renewable sources helped St. Luke's avoid a scheduled 30 percent rate increase from its previous electricity provider.

Reverse auctions benefit customers by giving energy suppliers the opportunity to bid against each other for business, thus driving energy prices down. The process helps hospitals to lock in pricing and reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the increased use of renewable energy sources.

St. Luke's achieved the savings by working with Premier Healthcare Alliance and its energy-saving program called Securing Proven Healthcare Energy Reduction (for the) Ecosystem (SPHERE). It is a collaborative effort involving Practice Greenhealth's Healthcare Clean Energy Exchange and its partner, World Energy Solutions.

SPHERE focuses on reducing the health care industry's energy use and greenhouse gas emissions by sharing information on best practices, educational programs and tools and management resources.