Abington (Pa.) Memorial Hospital received a $3 million grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to help fund a new cogeneration system to replace its 45-year-old heating system.

The grant, which will cover nearly one-third of the $9.8 million cogeneration project's total cost, was the largest amount awarded to about a dozen applicants who applied from across the state, says Richard Szatkowski, Abington Memorial's director of plant operations.

Szatkowski says the new system will help the hospital achieve $2 million a year in energy savings while significantly reducing air contaminants and water usage. He estimates the cogeneration system will reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by 70,000 pounds annually and cut sulfur oxide emissions by 301,000 pounds a year from what the facility's electricity provider would have released into the environment to meet the hospital's energy needs. In addition, the electricity provider will reduce water consumption by more than 13 million gallons a year.

"The cogen payback period is roughly four years," Szatkowski says. "That's based on the fact [that] energy deregulation is going to hit Pennsylvania on Jan. 1, 2011, when we're expecting electricity costs to go up by 40 percent."

Abington Memorial also received a $250,000 grant to help fund the purchase of long-lasting lighting in four parking garages at the hospital's main campus, which will cut electricity usage by 53 percent.

Judith Kratka, director of facilities planning, notes that these initiatives are part of a larger effort by Abington Memorial to green its operations. Other efforts have resulted in major increases in recycling, greater use of Green Seal-certified cleaning products and reductions in red bag waste.