Hospitals find new ways to cut costs through energy efficiencies

Demand response programs for energy consumption can save hospitals big bucks, Healthcare Finance News reported.

In 2013, Ohio-based Mercy Health secured new electricity, natural gas and demand response contracts for its 19 hospitals, and integrated care and physician-practice facilities, according to the article, which will save the system more than $300,000 in the first year. Calvin Wright, chief resource officer, told the publication that Mercy Health saved millions of dollars in the past five years by proactively identifying energy saving opportunities.

Hospital leaders must understand what a utility has to offer before they decide on a demand response contract, and the impact the utility program has on the hospital's long-term energy management plan, according to the article.

Other hospitals also invest in other green initiatives. At the University of California Davis, a new energy-efficient lighting system illuminates the emergency vehicle routes, parking lots and outdoor walkways at NorthBay Healthcare VacaValley Hospital, which reduces outdoor lighting energy use by 66 percent, saving about 29,000 kilowatt-hours a year, according to an announcement from the university.

The hospital replaced 57 lights with dimmable LED lights, using motion sensors to control the lights so they dim when the areas are vacant, and illuminate when visitors or staff pass by. About 88 percent of hospital doctors, nurses, staff and security guards surveyed gave positive feedback on the quality of the new lighting scheme, according to the announcement.

Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Energy said hospitals can save up to 30 percent of their annual energy costs by implementing new retrofit guidelines, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

Not only can hospitals improve their bottom lines, they can also bolster environmental stewardship and the health of their communities as a whole, writes Kathy Gerwig, Kaiser Permanente's vice president of employee safety, health and wellness, and environmental stewardship officer, in a recent column.

"Healthcare generates about 18 percent of all U.S. economic output, making it large enough to create and lead a national, even global transformation that could incorporate environmental sustainability in every dimension of the sector's economic activity for the health and well-being of the world's people," she writes.

To learn more:
- read the Healthcare Finance News article
- here's Gerwig's column
- check out the announcement