Healthcare Sector at the 2021 Summit: A Focus on Healthy and Efficient Buildings

By Better Buildings Beat Team on Jun 17, 2021

For the second year, healthy and efficient building operations was a popular topic during the Better Buildings, Better Plants Summit. Several sessions featured healthcare partners discussing their hands-on experience at the intersection of health and building operations. Commercial real estate (CRE) and hospitality partners discussed how the trends towards healthier buildings are affecting their office and hotel portfolios, and lab experts also shared their knowledge on the subject.

Here is a recap of several Summit sessions and resources focused on these efforts:

Summit Session: Health, Efficiency, and Building Operations
Health, Efficiency, and Building Operations featured CRE and hospitality partners Jonathan Bauer (The Tower Companies), Rishi Shah (Wyndham Hotels & Resorts), and Sara Neff (Kilroy Realty Corporation). The speakers shared their organizations’ pandemic responses and how energy efficiency and health were the top two concerns for building operators over the last year. During discussion, all agreed that health would continue to be a top priority for building operators and occupants and is likely to be a permanent consideration in future building design and operations.

Sector Meet-Up: Commercial
The Commercial Sector Meet-Up featured partners and industry affiliates from a wide range of commercial organizations. The meet-up covered topics relevant to CRE, healthcare, higher education, hospitality, retail, and food service and grocery. One topic covered during the session was the change in building operations due to the pandemic, and whether that trend would carry on into the future. Presenters shared takeaways from the Better Buildings COVID Webinar Series. Dean Stanberry from the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) discussed how the pandemic has affected building operations and the increased focused on health. From the American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE), Kara Brooks echoed Dean’s sentiments and shared that healthy buildings are a trend here to stay, even beyond the healthcare industry.

Sector Meet-Up: Healthcare (a post-Summit partner event)
The Healthcare Summer Meet-Up featured speakers from the national labs to discuss common barriers for healthcare partners. Paul Torcellini, NREL, covered heat pump technology and how to maximize efficiency, especially in cold climates where this technology has not typically been used. Also from NREL, Kim Trenbath informed participants on plug and process loads and how to navigate the significant energy load these devices carry in hospital settings through technology and controls. Lastly, Nikitha Radhakrishnan from BTO and PNNL discussed diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts at DOE and PNNL, and how partners can replicate those programs at their organizations.

The 2021 Better Buildings Progress Report was also published during the Summit, highlighting accomplishments from Better Buildings partners and allies. The Healthcare Sector Spotlight on pages 23-24 features case studies from partners who are solving innovative energy efficiency challenges while maintaining patient health and wellness. Explore the 2021 Report and previous reports here.