OREANDA-NEWS. February 19, 2016. The U.S. healthcare system is notorious for using energy inefficiently or unnecessarily, generating more than 5.9 million tons of waste each year (which contributes more than eight percent of the total greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.). And, they spend more than \\$10 billion a year on energy costs.

With the financial and resource pressures hospitals face today, healthcare facilities can’t afford this anymore and are starting to realize the benefits of energy conservation.

Butterflies Change Behavior

Change can be challenging, and saving energy starts with people and their behaviors. Take Carolinas Healthcare System Lincoln (CHS-Lincoln) hospital for example. According to an article in the Lincoln Times-News, the hospital was one of four in North Carolina chosen to pilot a CHS initiative aimed at reducing its energy use by 20 percent by 2017.

The first phase of the initiative focused on changing behavior. Employees were asked to carry out these specific actions:

  • Turn off lights and televisions when not in use
  • Shut down computer monitors
  • Reset thermostats
  • Close window blinds

To help employees remember to do these things, CHS-Lincoln placed monarch butterfly stickers in half the 90 rooms that were studied daily for compliance. These stickers served as a visual cue. According to the study, rooms with stickers had a 42-percent higher chance of being in compliance!

Measured Success

Positive results from this first phase led to an enhanced study, which measured the effectiveness of the behavioral change. To date the hospital has shown improvements that have them on track to save \\$125,000 on utilities this year.

“We actually exceeded expectations,” said Chad Brackett, director of plant operations and maintenance at CHS-Lincoln. “The expectations of the whole project were reached with first implementations. Everything else was basically a bonus.”

The hospital also made a lighting change in the parking lot that resulted in a \\$9,000 per year reduction in energy costs alone.

According to Brackett, energy-conscious decision-making will continue into the future, although he doesn’t know yet what different steps can be taken to reduce the carbon footprint further. Luckily, there are a lot of ways hospitals can reduce energy use beyond this initiative.

For example, they can easily leverage building and lighting system automation and controls to make them even more energy and cost efficient. Check out this case study on how Arnot Ogden Medical Center implemented an energy efficiency program that will deliver \\$14.5 million in guaranteed energy and operational savings — without having to spend any upfront capital.

Read the complete Lincoln Times News article for more about the CHS-Lincoln energy saving initiative.