par Sean Ruck
, Contributing Editor | April 06, 2018
From the April 2018 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
Waller credits Rochester Regional’s CEO, Dr. Eric Bieber, with driving the decision to go renewable.
“He’s always been passionate about the environment and he’s acutely aware of how much waste we generate and how much energy we consume. He understands the links between our environmental impact and human health problems. Eventually, all our environmental problems will become human health problems,” said Waller.
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Waller added that human health problems are the center of the health care world, so it makes sense that the industry leads the way to mitigate potential health problems brought about from environmental factors. As he put it, “One way or the other, we’re going to have to deal with them.”
In terms of funding the eco-friendly push, it was again a multi-pronged approach. The health system looks for payback on energy initiatives over a timespan of a few months to about two years, with a longer grace period afforded to renewables like solar panels since there’s a greater financial investment, requiring a greater time period to see that money back. Regardless of whether it’s energy efficiency or installation of renewable electricity sources, all the savings roll over year after year. So once the initial pocketbook pain has subsided, finances can stay in the black.
Perhaps the easiest way Rochester Regional improved energy efficiency has been through switching their lighting to LED.
“It’s so inexpensive now that we see a payback in a year, or in some cases, even just a few months,” said Waller. “Those savings we’re able to reinvest in other renewable projects. We expect we’ll be spending $1.5 million less by 2025 than we do today on our electricity. The numbers are looking really good as we forecast that out.”
It’s not just the reduced cost of the electricity that factors into the financial savings. There is also a lower cost of maintenance. In what sounds like the punch line to a joke, Waller explained, “You need a bucket truck and two or three people to change the lightbulb.”
He was referring to replacing the bulb in a parking lot light, something that happens every year or two, but switching to LED reduces that task to once a decade or so.
Changes in lighting choices and usage, and also smarter use of HVAC, have been on the slate and are being acted on, with plug loads being the other piece of the improved efficiency puzzle.
“To date, our largest hospital in the past two years has seen a 10 percent reduction in electricity consumption. And that was all from changing out lighting, HVAC optimization and reducing plug loads by unplugging equipment.”