Unmasking the New Face of Hospital Priorities: Combating Climate Change3 min read
Local hospitals and health care systems are at the heart of a community’s critical environment. Yet, recent catastrophes have indicated how climate change has the ability to adversely affect vital health care institutions’ ability to meet the needs of patients.1
Such U.S. health care systems are increasingly impacted financially and structurally with the rising frequency of major weather and environmental events. At the same time, health care institutions have also been identified as major contributors to air pollution, by some estimates, said to be the world’s seventh-largest producer of carbon dioxide.2
How can healthcare facilities ensure critical infrastructure doesn’t go down, and the back-up systems continue to run? How are climate impacts being considered in today’s healthcare boardrooms and during crisis preparedness conversations?
How can healthcare facilities ensure critical infrastructure doesn’t go down, and the back-up systems continue to run?
These are some of the questions that can be addressed with the expertise from an energy service company (ESCO) like Constellation, assisting your organization with vital infrastructure choices and available financing, the power of data analytics, and today’s renewed climate action momentum.
Turning Barriers into Opportunities for Change
A considerable concern for hospital institutions is rising costs, so seeking unique financial resources and creative funding can help tend to the bottom line.
Beyond budgetary concerns, any unpredicted crisis can overshadow other priorities, but thoughtful institutional preparation can mitigate impacts to the primary role of care facilities. While the categories and scales of size extend from local and regional tragedies to pandemics, natural disasters and extreme weather hazards (often a cause of climate change), every hospital facility needs updated and resilient infrastructure, so hospital services can continue as safe, accurate, comprehensive, timely, and ethical.
Climate change should be a major point of focus of any business continuity plan, with steps designed to ensure facilities can withstand possible detrimental effects— and particularly amongst health organizations, when rising to their institutional principle to “First, do no harm.”
Mandates for a Cleaner Environment
Combating climate change is also top of mind for the federal government. For example, the Biden-Harris administration is restoring climate regulations and is bringing renewed attention, focus, and dialogue to renewable energy (which only made up 12 percent of U.S. energy consumption in 2020 despite low costs.)
Right now, the executive branch has ambitions to boost solar and wind initiatives. Currently, the U.S. has 42 megawatts of offshore wind online. The Biden administration recently set a goal of deploying 30,000 megawatts by 2030.
While there are benefits to solar and wind, this has great potential to cause power latency. Therefore, hospitals need to be vigilant on power availability and offsetting energy costs through energy savings.
Action by Healthcare Institutions
Many health organizations have started implementing energy conservation measures (ECMs), such as energy efficiency upgrades as well as incorporating renewable energy sources. 3 The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also notes combined heat and power (CHM) for hospitals can create opportunities for resiliency, superior efficiency, cost savings and lower emissions.4
A qualified energy supplier can assist healthcare leaders in exploring initiatives for reduced energy usage and costs and implementing site-specific ECMs related to resiliency such as microgrid and battery storage solutions, all of which have the potential to contribute to a decrease in carbon emissions if paired with clean energy.
Additionally, hospital lobbyists and government relations personnel should continue to advocate and monitor efforts like those in the House Committee on Energy and Commerce so they can ensure hospitals are armored with resilient infrastructure ahead of major legislative changes and so that hospitals can contribute to a cleaner environment.
Legislation that is currently being drafted addresses vitals such as water shortages and protecting drinking water; power outages and the electric grid infrastructure; healthcare systems stretched financially and the need for capital project funding; and communities being left behind and high-speed broadband expansion. For more information, read our blog post on Biden’s infrastructure plan.
It is important to focus on both resiliency and a plan for combating climate change. Hospitals have a major opportunity to reduce overall emissions across the country and beyond.
Learn more about the many energy solutions we offer health care institutions, and be sure to ask your Constellation representation about funding mechanisms to make your sustainability and resiliency projects possible.
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