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Better Buildings at CleanMed 2018: Collaboration Gives Power to Greater Energy Efficiency

By Allison Nozza, RE Tech Advisors on Jul 25, 2018

Leaders in healthcare sustainability convened at the 2018 CleanMed conference in San Diego, California to “accelerate the sector’s commitment to environmental sustainability and regenerative health to improve the health of people and the environment.”[1] This year, Better Buildings Challenge partners Kyle Tafuri, Director of Sustainability for Hackensack Meridian-Health and Mary Evers Statz, Director of Energy Management and Sustainability for UW Health joined Samantha Stafford, Better Buildings Healthcare Subject Matter Expert (RE Tech Advisors) to present on strategic collaborative partnerships influencing greater energy efficiency.

Close to 30 attendees listened to their discussion Saving More Together: Greater Energy Efficiency through Strategic Collaboration to hear both Better Buildings Challenge partners share how they have collaborated with utilities and third-party engineering firms to enact innovative solutions to energy efficiency challenges, easing the burden of up-front costs and bridging gaps in expertise.

Moderator Samantha Stafford began the session explaining the strategic benefits of joining Better Buildings and the utility of the Better Buildings Solution Center as a tool that partners and the public can use to access peer case studies, fact sheets, guides, and technical reports for implementing energy and water efficiency measures and strategies.

Kyle Tafuri described how Hackensack-Meridian Health, in search of a financing option with minimal capital investment by the hospital, entered a strategic partnership with their utility company’s Hospital Efficiency Program that allocates up-front funding for hospitals to implement energy efficiency projects. He described their success partnering with third-party energy consulting firm Utilivisor to implement continuous monitoring and predictive analysis, resulting in $400,000 in annual savings and positive results for the hospital’s own engineering team; working with consultants allowed them to build expertise within the organization itself, which provides a net benefit for maintenance and operations in the long term.

Mary Evers Statz discussed UW Health’s partnerships with Sustainable Engineering Group (SEG) and Wisconsin's Focus on Energy retrocommissioning program, which resulted in 27% energy savings at University Hospital, one of UW Health's largest facilities. UW Health’s access to the free energy dashboards provided through Focus on Energy allowed their engineering team to implement BAS programming that automated building response during high-demand periods, reducing peak load across the campus.

The panelists concluded the session by engaging the audience in a moderated discussion on the value of these kinds of collaborations – access to a skilled workforce, the opportunity to build expertise within an organization, lower up-front costs, and incentives/rebates that reduce ROI – as well as the resources available to assist healthcare organizations through the Better Buildings program.

In addition to a successful session, Better Buildings healthcare partners and other interested participants engaged in a sector meet-up at the Healthcare Without Harm Climate Council meeting to discuss their goals in energy and water efficiency, new technologies in the market, and successful communication strategies for obtaining capital.

[1] “About CleanMed: Premier conference for health care sustainability”.