Boston hospitals reducing energy intensity through CHP: Report

Energy conservation and efficiency measures have enabled hospitals located in Boston, Massachusetts in the USA have cut their energy use by 6% over the last three years, despite expanding their real estate footprint and patient care requirements.

According to a new report which analyzed energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) records covering Boston hospital buildings, the sector reduced absolute, weather-adjusted total energy use (electricity, gas, chilled water, oil and steam) by 227 billion Btu between January 2011 and the end of 2013. Electricity use dropped 25.4 GWh and natural gas use dropped 1.2 million Btu, together with an associated 5.7% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile cost savings are conservatively estimated at $11.9 million, despite continued growth in facilities and numbers of patients, more energy intensive research laboratories and hotter summers.

Three sector leaders have either already achieved, or will achieve, deep GHG reductions. Massachusetts General Hospital reached 35% reductions in 2014, Boston Medical Center is targeting a 45% reduction by 2020; Brigham & Women's Hospital is committed to reaching 35% by 2020.

Commissioned on behalf of the Boston Green Ribbon Commission's Health Care Working Group (GRC-HC) Health Care Without Harm, the data tracks the sector's collective progress towards the GRC's shared goals of a 25% reduction in GHG emissions by 2020, and 80% by 2050. The report includes data from 13 institutions with a total of 39 buildings totalling 22 million square feet of space.

"We are deeply committed to improving the quality of life for our patients, our employees and the community," said Gary Gottlieb, MD, co-chair of the GRC Healthcare Working group and President and CEO of Partners Healthcare, which includes Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and others. "By using resources more efficiently and reducing energy consumption, we can reduce costs and mitigate the effects of climate change -- leaving a better Boston for our children to enjoy."

Kate Walsh, co-chair of the GRC-HC and CEO of Boston Medical Center added, "Individual hospitals and the sector are making great progress, demonstrating cost savings. Reinvesting the savings in more and better clinical care, in research and in more energy efficiency is critical to maintaining our momentum. Even though BMC is on track to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 45% by 2020, a huge improvement, we all have a great deal of work to do to reach our collective goal of an 80% reduction by 2050. But with incentives to invest in the capital and operational improvement, hospitals can continue to reduce our energy consumption which is important for our fiscal health and the health of all of us," she said.