The Brooks File
- Sustainability Program Manager, American Society for Health Care Engineering of the American Hospital Association, Chicago
- Account executive, Engineering Economics Inc., Golden, Colo.
- Project development manager, Iconergy Ltd., Denver
- Project sales representative, Haynes Mechanical Systems, Greenwood Village, Colo.
- Energy efficiency/commissioning engineer, Engineering Economics Inc.
- Staff engineer, EMC Engineers, Atlanta
- Junior engineer, MKK Consulting Engineers, Greenwood Village, Colo.
- Master of Science, Business Management, Colorado State University
- Bachelor of Science, Mechanical Engineering, Colorado State University
American Society for Health Care Engineering (ASHE) Sustainability Program Manager Kara Brooks, LEED AP BD & C, discusses ASHE’s recent receipt of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) ENERGY STAR Sustained Excellence Award as well as ASHE’s other sustainability developments.
What brought you to ASHE?
While I started my career in mechanical design, my path quickly changed to the building efficiency sector. I have spent the majority of my career providing energy engineering program management, business development and project management for a wide variety of projects and markets. I was fortunate to be brought onto ASHE’s team to manage the sustainability programs for the organization two years ago.
What does it mean for ASHE to win the EPA’s ENERGY STAR Sustained Excellence Award?
It’s a tremendous honor to receive the award. ENERGY STAR reserves the Sustained Excellence Award for organizations that have demonstrated leadership and superior contributions to ENERGY STAR by being named ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year for three consecutive years. Winning the award displays the continuous dedication ASHE members have shown toward efficiency in the built environment, their dedication to creating more efficient health care facilities and advancing affordability in health care.
Can you tell us about ASHE’s Energy to Care program?
Energy to Care began as the Energy Efficiency Commitment (E2C) program in response to the need for facility recognition for energy efficiency accomplishments. At the time, hospitals were seeking recognition for their accomplishments in energy reduction because the ENERGY STAR certification seemed unattainable due to the energy intensive use of a typical hospital. ASHE responded with the E2C awards. A few years later, E2C was renamed Energy to Care and expanded upon previous efforts to improve energy efficiency in the health care field.
The Energy to Care program has since evolved and provides four major products: Energy to Care benchmarking and dashboard, Energy to Care educational tools, the Energy to Care Treasure Hunt program and the Energy to Care awards programs. Energy savings from the Energy to Care program have topped more than $396 million, and there are more than 3,460 facilities participating.
Have you made any revisions to the Energy to Care program’s dashboard?
As the program evolved, ASHE began providing free energy benchmarking to health care facility management professionals who wanted to provide value back to their organizations through energy savings. This gave users the opportunity to compare their energy reduction efforts to those of similar nearby facilities and to challenge each other to greater achievements. The program continues to evolve, and I am excited to announce that we are working to launch a new platform at the ASHE Annual Conference & Technical Exhibition in July. We will have members of the team on-site at the Energy to Care Lounge to help sign up new participants, convert existing participants and to train on how to get the most out of it. I encourage everyone to go to the website to schedule a time to meet with the team, sign up for the platform and learn about using the tool.
What new education resources are you making available under Energy to Care?
ASHE has just completed a new tool that is launching with the new Energy to Care website. The ASHE Energy to Care Benefits Calculator estimating tool uses results and data provided by participants of the ASHE Energy to Care program to highlight a range of program benefits. Hospitals can select from a simple set of inputs to estimate some of the benefits that would come from participating in the Energy to Care program, such as money saved, pollution reduced and health harms avoided through reduced fossil fuel consumption. The results of the tool are designed to be used in combination with a variety of talking points that help make the case for program participation and to enhance the business case for energy reduction projects. The development of this tool was supported by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.
Can you tell us about the Energy to Care Treasure Hunt program?
ASHE established the Energy to Care Treasure Hunt program based on the ENERGY STAR Treasure Hunts. The program was developed as a means of engaging attendees in identifying low-cost energy savings opportunities from behavioral, operational and maintenance actions. This hosted program has been designed and customized for hospitals. Treasure hunts provide training, allowing teams to focus on identifying energy efficiency improvements and developing an energy culture inside their organizations.
ASHE’s first Energy to Care Treasure Hunt took place at Seattle’s Northwest Hospital & Medical Center in July 2018, where the teams identified more than $115,000 in potential energy savings opportunities.
Since that inaugural event, ASHE has refined the program and hosted events at other hospitals. Each event has demonstrated further success in helping hospitals become more efficient, thus conserving more resources for patient care.
We are providing an Energy to Care Treasure Hunt at the upcoming ASHE Annual Conference & Technical Exhibition. Registration information for the event can be found on the conference registration section of ASHE’s website.
Are there any new developments in the Energy to Care award program?
The Energy to Care awards honor health care facilities that reduce energy consumption by 10 percent in a single year or by 15 percent over two years, represented as source energy use intensity over the calendar year. The program also recognizes previous award winners that reduce energy consumption by 5 percent. ASHE also offers the Energy Champion Award, which is given out once per year to honor a single facility that has demonstrated outstanding leadership in energy efficiency. Hospitals and medical office buildings participating in Energy to Care that have an ASHE member on staff are eligible for this prestigious award. Due to the growing number of applicants, we have changed our recognition for the awarded facilities at the annual conference. This year, we will be launching the Energy to Care Showcase, which will be located in the Energy to Care Lounge. The showcase will feature the award-winning facilities and recognize them for their achievements.
What advice would you give to health facility managers who are just getting started with energy conservation?
I often hear from members that time and cost resources are limited. With that barrier in mind, I continually encourage them to just get started. The first step stems from creating a culture that revolves around sustainability.
The best place to begin is by benchmarking energy use in the Energy to Care program. This allows for a measure of performance, which leads to a self-assessment. The Energy to Care Treasure Hunt program provides great resources for assessing the operation of the building and creating an awareness of energy conservation.
Remember that when it comes to energy costs, turning things off instantly saves. Taking that first step is most important. Energy efficiency has a domino effect — once savings begin, new opportunities appear and savings accumulate.