Environmental Stewardship: WE ACT for Energy & Water Efficiency

December 17, 2020 Geoffrey Glass

This article was written by guest contributor Geoffrey W Glass, PECEM - Senior Technical Program Manager, Energy & Sustainability at Providence. 

Providence believes that healthy people require a healthy planet. We’re standing by this belief with our commitment to becoming carbon negative by 2030. This is a bold goal, and we are committed.

Our WE ACT framework outlines the five focus areas which will have a beneficial impact on our overall environmental footprint, and help us achieve this goal. This article focuses on our efforts to reduce energy consumption and identify tactics to improve water efficiency.

Planning for success

Healthcare’s immense U.S. footprint includes eight percent of all energy consumption and seven percent of all water use among commercial and institutional facilities. This is a significant impact on these two critical resources.

To achieve carbon negativity, Providence must identify strategic opportunities for improvement in these areas, establish a baseline, and measure progress. To do this, we developed a world-class utility and sustainability management platform called Resource Advisor in partnership with Schneider Electric which allows us to view our energy and water use and associated carbon–equivalent emissions for each facility across our seven-state system.

In addition, we are conducting a series of “energy and water assessments,” which will identify key efficiency opportunities at many of our acute care facilities. The insights gained by identifying these opportunities for improvements will become a key roadmap to carbon negativity.

Local accomplishments

Some of our ministries are making remarkable progress reducing energy and water use at the local level. For example:

  • Because of a $238K grant from TransAlta, a large electricity generation company, the largest solar array on a hospital in Washington State was recently installed at Providence Centralia Medical Center. These solar panels will reduce carbon emissions by 70,000 pounds per year and save about $13K/year in electricity costs.
  • Covenant Medical Center (CMC) in Texas made strides toward energy efficiency during a renovation of its central utility plant by consolidating older equipment with newer high-efficiency models.
  • Hospitals in California saved water and gained significant cost savings by identifying all regular and scrub sinks that flowed at 3.3 gallons per minute and upgraded them with antimicrobial laminar flow devices so they flow at 1.2 gallons per minute while maintaining effective water pressure.

System-wide efforts

We are also working on large scale efficiency efforts at the system level. For instance, Providence Real Estate Strategy and Operations (RESO) rolled out an effort to control heating and cooling systems in medical office buildings based on occupancy schedule. This allows for automatic shutdowns of these systems when the buildings aren’t in use. Learn more about this effort in AK, OR and WA.

Get educated

Protecting our environment is a team sport, and it’s important to equip yourself with the knowledge so you can play a part. Below are some resources that will help you understand the problem we’re seeking to solve together.

ENERGY STAR Energy Saving Measures in Healthcare

Tips for saving energy in Medical Office Buildings with HVAC programming

Tips for conserving water -  US EPA WaterSense Water Saving Tips and Water Wise Tips  

About the Author

For more than a decade, Geoffrey W. Glass, director of Facility and Technology Services at Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia, has been finding ways to dramatically cut water use and waste.

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