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Unique Clean Energy Program Helps Hospitals Buy Clean Energy, Reduce Costs and Counteract Climate Change
Date:2/3/2010

Health Sector in Vanguard of Clean Energy Programs Targeting Health, Environment

HERNDON, Va., Feb. 3 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In recent months, three U.S. hospitals signed energy contracts that will save over $1.7 million in energy costs, provide them with up to 10 percent clean energy. The green energy will avoid 11,829 metric tons of CO2 being released to our atmosphere, which is equivalent to taking 2,052 cars off the road or not burning 56 railcars' worth of coal. Some of the human health benefits will include avoiding over 200 respiratory illnesses.  These hospitals are among the first participants in Practice Greenhealth's Clean Energy Solutions program, established to help the U.S. health care sector switch to cleaner, renewable energy sources.  

The health sector comprises 16 percent of the U.S. economy and spends $6.5 billion each year on energy, almost all of which is generated by the burning of fossil fuels, associated with chronic illnesses such as asthma, and heart and lung disease. Through its Clean Energy Solutions program, Practice Greenhealth, a subsidiary of Health Care Without Harm, provides tools, training and guidance to hospitals on reducing energy consumption, installing renewable energy sources, and purchasing clean energy. Only two years old, Practice Greenhealth is a rapidly growing membership organization for hospitals developing sustainable operations.  Its 1000+ membership includes most of the major hospital and health systems in the country.

"Energy is a critical area to address for climate change, because hospitals are the second most energy intensive buildings in the country," said Nick DeDominicis, Vice President of Clean Energy Solutions at Practice Greenhealth.  "These benefits of using clean energy are much more than cost savings -- in fact, the benefits to public health from reduced greenhouse gasses are directly related to the reduction in fossil fuel use, and can be quantified."

Using Practice Greenhealth's Energy Impact Calculator, hospitals can calculate exactly how much harm to public health they generate by using fossil fuels.  The calculator takes into account the region the hospital is located in, and the fuel mix of the power generating plants supplying power to the grid that serves it.  Many hospitals would prefer to purchase clean energy but it usually is more costly, which is why Practice Greenhealth developed the Healthcare Clean Energy Exchange (HCEE), a reverse auction program that gives hospitals access to competitive energy suppliers.  Their competitive bids help reduce the cost of traditionally produced energy to create the financial bandwidth to afford clean energy.  Most hospitals are able to purchase between 5 and 10 percent clean energy, and most hope to purchase more as part of an overall clean energy strategy.

"The HCEE process enabled us to buy our electricity from renewable sources for the same price as the traditional electricity generated from fossil fuels," said Larry Jennings, director of Purchasing and Contracting at St. Luke's Hospital, in Bethlehem, PA, which recently signed a contract to purchase 10 percent green energy.  "That is an important objective around our overall strategy for reducing our carbon footprint and making a positive contribution to public health."

""We are really seeing an interest by the health care sector in taking steps to improve public health by reducing their own environmental footprint," said Anna Gilmore Hall, executive director of Health Care Without Harm.  "Practice Greenhealth is providing comprehensive programs for hospitals to engage the entire hospital -- from the C-suite to the boiler room -- in sustainable operations.  Their work in energy is truly groundbreaking and we are continuing to expand these programs to the entire health care sector, which will in turn mean better health for the entire population."

About Health Care Without Harm:  Health Care Without Harm is an international coalition of more than 430 organizations in 52 countries, working to transform the health care industry worldwide, without compromising patient safety or care, so that it is ecologically sustainable and no longer a source of harm to public health and the environment. For more information on HCWH, visit www.noharm.org.

About Practice Greenhealth:  Practice Greenhealth is the nation's leading membership and networking organization for institutions in the healthcare community that have made a commitment to sustainable, eco-friendly practices. Members include hospitals, healthcare systems, businesses and other stakeholders engaged in the greening of healthcare to improve the health of patients, staff and the environment. For more information on Practice Greenhealth, visit www.practicegreenhealth.org. For more information on the Practice Greenhealth Clean Energy solutions program, visit http://www.practicegreenhealth.org/tools/hcee.

SOURCE Health Care Without Harm

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SOURCE Health Care Without Harm
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