Three hospitals leading the way in energy efficiency are setting the bar for all facilities striving to reduce their carbon footprints. In recognition of their impressive gains in sustainability, Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital, Roanoke, Va., Carilion Rockbridge Community Hospital, Lexington, Va., and Aurora Medical Center in Manitowoc County, Wis., received the 2022 Energy to Care Program Sustainability Champion Awards from the American Society for Health Care Engineering (ASHE) of the American Hospital Association.

The prestigious award recognizes facilities that demonstrate outstanding leadership in health care sustainability.

While each hospital has developed sustainability plans tailored to their needs, this year’s award winners share important strengths including strong leadership, a dedicated staff and a facility-wide culture of sustainability. They are laser-focused on sustainability accountability through audits, tracking and benchmarking. And they share the innovative mindset necessary to keep up with the rapidly changing sustainability landscape, says Kara Brooks, LEED AP BD+C, senior associate director of sustainability for ASHE.

“The move toward sustainability and the decarbonization of health care is happening very quickly,” says Brooks. “This year’s Energy to Care Sustainability Champions serve as an example for other hospitals forging their own paths along the road to sustainability. They are making real progress, often in a relatively short span of time.”

Introduced in 2016 as the ASHE Energy Care Champion Award, the award was renamed the Energy to Care Sustainability Champion Award in 2022 to reflect a broader focus on sustainability. 

ASHE also developed more stringent criteria including requiring quantifiable data to demonstrate sustainability metrics. Hospitals must achieve an Environmental Protection Agency ENERGY STAR® score of 75 or above; be an ENERGY STAR-certified hospital; and track energy, water and greenhouse gas emissions in the ASHE Energy to Care Dashboard. Hospitals also must have a green team, designate a sustainability champion or leader and publish a sustainability statement. All facilities that meet these standards receive the Energy to Care Sustainability Champion Award.

All hospitals face significant challenges on the road to sustainability. With their 24/7 lighting, heating and water needs, hospitals consume large amounts of energy. Health care is also responsible for roughly 8.5% of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted yearly. Hospitals play a key role in the global push toward decarbonization, or reducing or removing this abundant greenhouse gas from the atmosphere. 

Energy to Care Sustainability Champion Award winners are rapidly reducing CO2 emissions through energy-efficiency measures like LED lighting, recalibrating thermostats and occupancy sensors, adjusting operating schedules, and rebalancing the air- and waterflows of HVAC systems. Some are adopting renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and geothermal to power buildings. Many are realizing dramatic cost savings across the board.

While energy typically falls under the facilities department umbrella, even small changes from staff hospital-wide can help create a paradigm shift in sustainability awareness, Brooks says.

“A facilities manager might handle the energy budget, but the entire staff can play a role in energy efficiency and sustainability,” Brooks says. “For example, a conference room that is frequently used might have its lights on 24/7. A facilities manager could put a sign up, ‘Don’t forget to turn off the lights,’ that reminds staff they are also responsible for saving energy. Staff can shut off all computer monitors at night. Taking ownership of some simple things invests staff members in the energy efficiency process and leads to a culture of sustainability.”

Energy to Care Sustainability Champion Award winners are setting the standard for sustainability in health care, and every hospital can learn from their success.

“No matter where they are in their sustainability journey, all hospitals can make progress if they make this a real priority,” Brooks says. “The entire planet is pushing toward being more environmentally friendly and hospitals play a key role in this effort.”

A good place to start is ASHE’s Energy to Care Program that helps health care facilities track, manage and communicate energy savings. The program provides a robust dashboard that helps health care facilities professionals track, manage and communicate sustainability data. The tool makes it easy to visualize and share sustainability data within health care facilities. 

Energy to Care Program boasts wide range of awards

While this month’s Health Facilities Management cover story focuses on the winners of the American Society for Health Care Engineering’s (ASHE’s) Sustainability Champion Award, the group also honored more than 100 other hospitals that have earned an Energy to Care Award for lowering their energy use and freeing up resources for patient care during its Annual Conference & Technical Exhibition last month in Boston.

Consistent growth

Energy to Care Program participation has seen consistent growth since its inception in 2006. In fact, participation has expanded to more than 3,600 facilities since 2010, and in the entire life of the program, health care facilities have seen a combined savings of more than $550 million dollars reallocated to patient care.

The program also recognizes past Energy to Care Award winners that have continued to accomplish sustainability goals with the inaugural Sustained Performance Award. ASHE congratulates these facilities for further reducing or maintaining reduced emissions, including:

  • Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital.
  • Carilion Roanoke Community Hospital.
  • Carilion New River Valley Medical Center.
  • Carilion Rockbridge Community Hospital.
  • Aurora Sinai Medical Center.
  • Aurora Medical Center in Oshkosh.
  • Aurora St. Luke’s South Shore Medical Center.
  • Aurora Sheboygan Memorial Medical Center.
  • Aurora Medical Center in Summit.
  • Aurora Medical Center in Grafton.
  • Aurora Medical Center in Burlington.

ASHE, a professional membership group of the American Hospital Association, congratulates these Sustainability Champion and Sustained Performance awardees and all the hospitals that earned an Energy to Care Award.

Facilities professionals can view all the 2022 Energy to Care Award Winners.

Through the Energy to Care Program, ASHE affiliated chapters can participate in a challenge to demonstrate the highest reductions in energy consumption. Seventeen ASHE affiliated chapters participated in the Energy to Care 2022 Chapter Challenge. ASHE congratulates the winners of the 2022 Chapter Challenge and thanks all participants for their work to save energy, including:

  • Large Category Winner — Ohio Society for Healthcare Facilities Management.
  • Small Category Winner — Chesapeake Area Society of Healthcare Engineering Inc. 

About the program

Energy to Care is an energy-reduction program for health care facilities management professionals who want to add value to their organizations through energy savings. ASHE is working to help members set and achieve sustainability goals. To meet this objective, ASHE created trusted sustainability resources that are specifically tailored for health care facilities. 

Beth Burmahl is a freelance writer based in Illinois and a regular Health Facilities Management contributor.