Although hospitals require large amounts of energy to function properly — 24-hour operation, powering large equipment, etc., — many of them are still committed to finding ways to reduce energy use without forsaking quality of care. Hospitals that excel in this area say that it all begins with benchmarking.

For instance, Antonio Suarez, facilities director at Midland (Texas) Memorial Hospital, says that his hospital thought it did well in the area of energy conservation until it actually began benchmarking its performance. Once it realized how much energy it was wasting, the hospital began making systematic changes to improve efficiency.

Midland Memorial chose to use the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Energy Star Portfolio Manager. According to the 2015 Sustainable Operations Survey, the EPA program is the third most popular energy-performance monitoring tool/activity used by hospitals. Setting annual budget and performance targets, and conducting energy audits ranked No. 1 and 2, respectively.

Another tool being adopted by hospitals is the Energy To Care platform, developed by the American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE). This program integrates into the Energy Star Portfolio Manager and allows facility managers and the C-suite to easily visualize and share energy data and performance metrics. The organization announced at its annual conference that 1,700 hospitals are using the program, including Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital Boston, which ASHE named as its 2016 Energy Champion.

Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital developed a strategic energy master plan that included retrocommissioning its HVAC system and optimizing lighting controls. The strategy helped the hospital to reduce its energy use by nearly 15 percent last year.

UF Health, Gainesville, Fla., also was recognized with an Energy to Care Award for cutting its energy use after optimizing and retrocommissioning its building automation systems at two hospitals. These measures have helped the health system to save more than $5 million in less than five years. 

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