Today is Earth Day, an event commemorated worldwide annually to show support for protecting the environment. First celebrated in 1970, Earth Day is recognized in more than 192 countries. At Memorial Hermann, helping people to heal is not inconsistent with helping to minimize our environmental footprint.
In fact, Memorial Hermann’s energy efficiency goal closely aligns with its healthcare focus of delivering high-quality and safe patient care. Since implementing its energy-efficiency and benchmarking focus in 2008, the system has saved more than $87 million – money that can be used for patient care.
“Hospitals – by building category type – have been documented as consuming 250% more energy on average than other industry building types,” said Michael Hatton, Memorial Hermann’s vice president of Engineering Services. “Reducing energy consumption and utility costs has a very positive impact on the bottom line of any healthcare organization.”
A Leader Among the Nation’s Energy-efficiency Stars
When Memorial Hermann began partnering with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ENERGY STAR program in 2008, it provided the framework and guidance on how to achieve incremental success across its entire real estate portfolio. ENERGY STAR is the trusted, government-backed symbol for energy efficiency and protecting the environment through energy-efficient products and practices. “Participating in the EPA’s ENERGY STAR benchmarking program is a great way to easily compare your facility’s energy efficiency with other healthcare industry peer groups,” Hatton explained. “ENERGY STAR’s benchmarking process is the industry standard database for United States commercial and industrial buildings. Reducing energy and utility consumption also has a direct correlation to reducing air emissions of atmospheric pollutants – ultimately good for the bottom line and good for the environment.”
The ENERGY STAR label was established to:
- Encourage reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants caused by the inefficient use of energy
- Make it easy for consumers to identify and purchase energy-efficient products that offer savings on energy bills without sacrificing performance, features, and comfort
There are more than 5,500 hospitals in the nation. Approximately 50 were labeled ENERGY STAR in 2015. Eight were Memorial Hermann hospitals – denoting the health system as a leader among the nation’s energy-efficiency stars.
Compared to its 2008 baseline, Memorial Hermann is preventing the emissions of more than 30,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, which is equivalent to the carbon sequestered by more than 769,000 tree seedlings planted and grown for 10 years.
2016 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year
Notably, Memorial Hermann was recently recognized as 2016 ENERGY STAR “Partner of the Year” – the fourth consecutive year the system has earned the award for its sustained leadership in energy management (reduction of usage) across its healthcare portfolio. The ceremony was held in Washington, D.C.
Among the awards and recognitions that Memorial Hermann has received on its sustainability and energy management journey include:
- 2013: ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year for Healthcare
- 2013: 8 ENERGY STAR Labeled Hospitals (Energy efficiency above the 75th percentile ranking)
- 2013: American Hospital Association’s American Society of Healthcare Engineering (“ASHE”) Energy To Care Recognition for energy efficiency improvement greater than 10%
- 2014: ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year for Healthcare
- 2014: 8 ENERGY STAR Labeled Hospitals (Energy efficiency above the 75th percentile ranking)
- 2014: American Hospital Association’s ASHE Energy To Care Recognition for energy efficiency improvement greater than 10%
- 2014: Texas Association of Healthcare Facilities Management (TAHFM)’s Most Energy Improved Medical Office Building in Texas
- 2014: Texas Association of Healthcare Facilities Management (TAHFM)’s Most Energy Improved Small Hospital (less than 250,000 square feet) in Texas
- 2015: 8 ENERGY STAR Labeled Hospitals (Energy efficiency above the 75th percentile ranking)
- 2015: American Hospital Association’s ASHE Energy To Care Recognition for energy efficiency improvement greater than 10%
- 2015: ENERGY STAR Sustained Excellence Award
So, what is the secret to Memorial Hermann’s Facilities Engineering team’s success?
The team implemented a two-fold strategy that focused on repairing or replacing outdated heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems (HVAC) with new, more efficient technology, while at the same time fine-tuning the people element by goal-setting, benchmarking, creating competition between facilities, and rewarding and recognizing success, said Larry Newlands, Memorial Hermann’s Energy Management Director.
“Healthcare engineers are a key to any hospital’s sustainability efforts,” said Clark Reed, National Program Manager for ENERGY STAR at the U.S. EPA. “Memorial Hermann Health System understands this because a well-run hospital is more comfortable to patients, less costly to operate, and helps protect our public health and the environment. EPA is proud to recognize Memorial Hermann for its continued leadership in the ENERGY STAR program with our Partner of the Year award for Sustained Excellence.”
Smart Energy Use for Tomorrow’s Hospitals
Memorial Hermann’s sustainability and energy management journey is continuing with its Breaking New Ground project, Hatton said.
“We have incorporated several best practice features in the new campus expansions (Pearland, Cypress, Katy and Sugar Land) and office buildings that are highly reliable, low/no cost, and reduce energy consumption as compared to our current building portfolio,” Hatton said. “Some of these features include LED lighting systems throughout, air conditioning ‘heat recovery,’ variable speed pumping systems, and improved thermal insulation on walls/roofing systems.
“Just as important, we have implemented a rigorous ‘commissioning’ quality control process to verify system performance as part of the occupancy process,” Hatton continued. “We also mandate, as part of the project specifications, that our new hospitals achieve the ENERGY STAR Label within the first full year of occupancy – signifying energy efficiency performance above the 75th percentile of its peer group.”
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