Climate change, ENERGY STAR and your building walk into a bar…

By Angie Stokes

Volatile reimbursements and margins, unpredictable population health crises and now you can add world-wide pandemic to the list of difficulties encountered by the healthcare industry in the last decade. Couple this new normal with the growing climate concerns and it’s almost more than we can manage. Like with any major change, we must be deliberate and take one step at a time. The good news is that there are solutions.

Every single dollar matters because every single patient matters, so it’s important to find every financial advantage obtainable. ENERGY STAR, a program developed by the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, recently published an article stating that healthcare organizations spend over $6.5 billion on energy each year. They also suggest that for every $1 a hospital saves; it is equivalent to generating $20 in new revenues. That assumes that their operating margin is five percent and for those organizations making less, the impact is even greater.

Energy efficient buildings don’t just happen. They must be designed, built, operated and maintained in a way that ensures sustainability. Many times, the very gadgets that will ensure systems operate efficiently and communicate effectively with those responsible for them are cut from designs, or worse, forgotten altogether.

Maybe your organization is one of the more forward-thinking ones, your last new construction project utilized the latest technology. How about that aging infrastructure that gets pushed to the bottom of the capital list every year? How about that innovative technology that would cut your utility bill by more than 15 percent, but capital is prioritized to clinical equipment?

A New Paradigm

It’s time to shift the paradigm. A building’s infrastructure is not everlasting. We tend to neglect the investments that keeps the building viable for patient care. Not only is deliberate and consistent investment in hospital building infrastructure a good idea to cut utility costs, well planned projects can provide redundancy, reliability and compliance improvements that outpace the cost cutting benefits.

Since 2014, healthcare organizations in Kentucky and southern Indiana have saved a combined $12 million in utility cost through initiatives ranging from full infrastructure rescues to simple operational tweaks. Using the ENERGY STAR information from the article that is $240,000,000 in new revenue.

Furthermore, the financial market has tools that encourage businesses to invest in cost reduction strategies through these means. In today’s world, with a focus on the global environment and a changing climate, we are all responsible for doing our part. Doing your part could also provide business results that constitute substantial return on investment.

When considering upgrading your aging infrastructure, it’s important to work with experts in both energy and the commercial HVAC industry, specifically in system efficiency, navigating energy purchasing strategies, energy sourcing and storage, advancements in building technology and renewable energy. From energy supply procurement consulting to ongoing energy management, to energy efficient infrastructure design and construction projects, there are new standards in efficiency, productivity, sustainability that require a partnership built on expertise and trust.

It’s time to move the needle on commitment to the built environment by improving indoor air quality, doubling down on compliance and efficiency and staying nimble through continuous building commissioning.

Angie Stokes is the healthcare market leader at Harshaw Trane.