Kara Brooks, LEED AP BD+C, sustainability program manager for the American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE)
Even successful programs can be strengthened. That’s what Kara Brooks, LEED AP BD+C, sustainability program manager for the American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE), intends to do with the Energy to Care initiative.
Since joining ASHE in late March as the society’s first full-time staff member dedicated to sustainability and management of Energy to Care, Brooks has been looking for ways to enhance the Energy to Care Awards, the Chapter Challenge and other aspects of the program. For example, outpatient facilities and medical office buildings are now eligible to receive Energy to Care Awards.
“In my first couple of months, I went through and analyzed the awards program, looking at some of the ins and outs of what was working and what wasn’t working,” says Brooks, who has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, a master’s in business management and more than 15 years of experience as an energy engineer.
Brooks also has been visiting ASHE chapters to increase their members’ participation in Energy to Care and drum up more interest in the Chapter Challenge. This year, 12 ASHE chapters competed, a record number, but far short of the society’s goal.
“We would like to see the Chapter Challenge in all of the states. I think there is huge potential out there,” Brooks says. “We’re gaining momentum.”
A 2017 Energy Star Partner of the Year, ASHE estimates that Energy to Care has produced $127 million in energy savings. “We have much bigger goals,” Brooks adds. “When I go out to chapters and present on this, I say that the numbers could be a lot higher.”
Brooks is also spearheading the revamp of the Energy to Care website and has other plans for the program.
“We hired Kara Brooks and brought the Energy to Care program in house so we can be of better service to our members who are involved in the program, as well as attract new participants,” notes Jonathan Flannery, CHFM, FASHE, FACHE, ASHE’s senior associate director of advocacy.
Carolyn Schierhorn, a freelance writer based in Wheaton, Ill., specializes in health care- and construction-related topics.