Hospital energy waste puts a damper on operating budgets and public health

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In Australia, energy prices have increased 19% over the last 3 years, and in 2012, the government passed a new carbon tax, which is expected to increase hospital electricity bills by %10+ this year. According to media releases from New South Wales Treasury Department and the Victorian Ministries of Ageing and Health, this could cost the hospitals in the state of New South Wales AUD $27 million/year and the hospitals in Victoria AUD $13.7 million/year, if action is not taken to reduce carbon emissions. At the same time, Australia has the potential to make a significant dent in energy waste over the next 20 years, with an estimated AUD $2 billion+ in potential energy savings across the country’s hospitals.

In addition, hospitals are the number one consumer of energy in buildings and account for more than half of the emissions from Australian government buildings. In fact, 75% of Australia’s electricity comes from coal-burning power plants. An estimate from the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering estimates that  carbon pollution costs Australia $2.6 billion/year in immediate healthcare costs due to related respitory, cardiac, and nervous system diseases. This means energy waste is now a public health problem.

Many in Australia’s healthcare communities think they should be taking the lead to improve this, and are already moving rapidly toward building green hospitals and improving energy efficiency. The new Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne was built with both patients and the environment in mind, earning the hospital recognition as Australia’s first 5-star Green Star hospital, thanks to a design that incorporated sustainability targets, including greenhouse gas and peak energy reduction, water conservation, and waste minimization. Likewise, the new Royal Adelaide Hospital, which started construction in 2011, is slated to be one of the greenest developments in South Australia, with sustainability initiatives, such as water and daylight harvesting, energy metering and reporting, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions, incorporated into the design.

I recently attended Australian Healthcare Week and shared my experiences on how energy efficiency can help ensure hospital financial health. We find that our customers find the greatest benefit and maximized savings when they implement a comprehensive energy management programs that address the following questions:

  • What is my hospital’s energy management strategy?
  • How do I buy energy?
  • How do I control energy?
  • How do I optimize energy?
  • How is my hospital performing against energy goals and benchmarks?

Schneider Electric’s experience with hospital energy management shows that a comprehensive program can save 12% more than just implementing well-known energy conservation measures. Is your hospital pursuing sustainability initiatives or green certification? Share your experiences in the comment field below.

To find out more, take a look at my presentation, “How energy efficiency can ensure hospital financial health.”

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