Forum Targets Healthcare-Higher Education Synergy

By Dan Hounsell, Senior Editor
September 30, 2021

Facility managers with healthcare organizations have their hands more than full these days. With COVID-19 continuing to tax their staffing and mission support efforts and tight budgets forcing tough decisions throughout their departments, managers are leaning on their peers more than ever for guidance and insights. In the case of healthcare organizations within higher education, the Better Buildings program recently offered a forum for such communication.

In a recent peer exchange, Better Buildings partners in the healthcare and higher education sectors discussed challenges and solutions related to energy efficiency and renewable energy procurement on a campus setting. The event included University of Wisconsin and UW Health, University of Utah and University of Utah Health, University of Virginia, Gundersen Health Systems, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Stanford University, and Northwestern University. Partners reviewed opportunities and best practices for green revolving funds and financing, renewables procurement, goal setting and collaboration on energy efficiency, and building operations during the pandemic.

For example, on the topic of green revolving funds and financing, representatives from the University of Utah and University of Utah Health shared best practices on collaborating on a cross-campus green revolving fund (GRF), which is set up for energy efficiency and sustainability projects, with savings from those efforts rolled back into the fund for future projects. When budgets became tight for the University of Utah Health during COVID-19, daily communications began between the main campus and the hospital system. The collaboration resulted in the university allowing the health campus to access the university’s GRF, ensuring energy efficiency projects were still funded across campus.

Regarding renewables procurement, the University of Virginia has made strides with renewables through onsite installations and offsite procurement on the academic campus. The partner looked to others on the call to find solutions to the lack of available rooftop space for the UVA Health medical buildings to apply rooftop solar arrays. Gundersen Health Systems, a leader in the renewable space, has renewable energy projects at more than a dozen facilities and is adding more ground mount solar arrays where on-site space exists. The Gundersen team shared about its solar array atop a parking garage at its Lutheran Hospital – a strategy that was popular among partners due to the ubiquity of parking garages on healthcare and university campuses.

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Topic Area: Energy Efficiency , Sustainable Operations

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