Today, the Boston Green Ribbon Commission (GRC), along with Health Care Without Harm, released areport analyzing the nation’s first-ever, sector-wide energy use database. Hospitals and healthcare buildings in Boston have reduced energy use by 6% reduction.
Boston is fortunate to be home to some of the world’s leading healthcare institutions. They create jobs, conduct cutting-edge research, and save lives–all pretty important tasks. However, hospitals and their associated facilities are some of the most energy intensive building uses out there. Partners Healthcare, for example, once used almost as much energy as the entire city of Cambridge in order to do the work necessary to save lives!
“Boston is proud to be home to the world’s top medical institutions for patient care, research, and now, sustainability,” said Mayor Walsh. “These institutions understand that taking care of people also means taking care of our environment.”
The good news is Boston’s healthcare institutions see the big picture. They understand how their energy use and associated greenhouse gas emissions are altering the earth’s climate, and how climate change will make their job of saving lives all the more difficult.
Boston’s hospitals have been long-time participants of the Green Ribbon Commission, sharing best practices for energy conservation and greenhouse gas reduction strategies through the Health Care Working Group. MGH and Brigham and Women’s are also participating in the Mayor’s Carbon Cup, which calls on real estate owners to commit at least one million square feet of building space to a 35% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions intensity by 2020.
Boston hospitals have also been providing more patients with higher quality services – think about all the MRI machines ten years ago versus today (hint: there’s a lot more today). Despite the continuing growth of local hospitals, the report shows that overall energy use has decreased by 6% since 2011 in Boston’s Healthcare sector. That is equivalent to eliminating the GHG emissions of a car traveling over 85 million miles – or going around the Earth 3,400 times!
These energy savings have resulted in an estimated $11.9 million in cost savings, enough to pay for healthcare for 1,055 Massachusetts Medicare enrollees.
“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.” said Gary Gottlieb, MD, co-chair of the GRC Healthcare Working group and President and CEO of Partners Healthcare.
Historically, Boston hospitals’ energy use has grown about 1.5% per year, due to new buildings, more energy intensive clinical uses, increasing numbers of patients, and expanded research. Also, hospitals are huge energy users as they provide critical services 24/7.
The 2014 Climate Action Plan sets specific targets for the entire Large Building and Institution (LBI) sector. Healthcare is and will continue to play a huge role in helping Boston achieve its citywide goals. Click here to l earn more about the Plan, and the role of Large Buildings and Institutions in particular.
The Health Care Without Harm database includes over 18,000 energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) records covering 24 million square feet of Boston hospitals, or 7% of all of Boston’s commercial real estate.