Healthcare organizations are more likely to invest in energy efficiency upgrades and efforts at their facilities than other industries in North America, according to research from Johnson Controls Inc. and the American Society for Healthcare Engineering.
The organization and Johnson Controls’ Institute for Building Efficiency are reporting the findings (pdf) today at the ASHE Annual Conference and Technical Exhibition, which is being held in Tampa, Fla.
In a survey conducted earlier this year, 58 percent of the professionals with decision-making authority for healthcare facilities in North America said energy management is very or extremely important to their organization. By comparison, 52 percent of decision-makers for buildings across all sectors in North America said the same, the research for Johnson Controls and ASHE found.
Complementing the findings on attitudes toward energy efficiency, facilities decision-makers said they plan energy efficiency capital investments in the next 12 months — with respondents in the healthcare sector again making a stronger showing than their counterparts across industries: 62 percent in healthcare said they plan capital investments in energy efficiency over the next 12 months compared to 52 percent across North American industries.
The survey also found that respondents in the healthcare sector said they have already taken several steps to improve energy efficiency. Lighting retrofits topped the list as shown below.
The findings represent a segment of Johnson Controls’ broad annual survey on attitudes and efforts regarding energy savings called the Energy Efficiency Indicator. The poll of 2,882 executives and managers with authority over energy investment at facilities worldwide was conducted in March, and North American were results presented in April. The respondents included 288 professionals in the healthcare industry. The International Facility Management Association was a partner in the research in addition to Johnson Controls and ASHE.
The response from healthcare facilities leaders this year compared favorably to results from 2008, when the groups last published study findings on the industry. This year, 80 percent of the building executives in healthcare surveyed said they have a goal of achieving green building certification or incorporating green elements in new construction projects. Seventy-two percent reported the same in 2008.
As in other industries, the leading driver for energy efficiency in healthcare is cost savings with brand and image enhancement taking second place as a motivator, the survey found (see chart below).
Next Page: Perceived barriers, possible solutions and more.
Capital constraints and concerns about return on investment were cited as the chief barriers to energy efficiency investment — reasons that generally top the list perceived impediments across industries.
However, the survey results indicate an opportunity for healthcare organizations as well as energy services companies.
Relatively few hospitals and healthcare firms are taking advantage strategies that allow them pursue upgrades with no upfront capital such as power purchase agreements, shared savings agreements and energy efficiency mortgages (see chart below).
More than three-quarters said they plan to tap their facilities capital budget instead of exploring other funding mechanism.
The report on the survey concluded that while perceptions and commitments toward energy efficiency are improving, energy services practitioners can go a long way toward helping the health care sector achieve its potential for high performance, high efficiency facilities.
“it is clear that good intentions are not enough to get these types of projects implemented on a large scale,” the report said.
“There are natural barriers to an efficient market that practitioners throughout the value chain are working to correct, and with the right mix of good policy, innovative technology and new financial structures, there is hope that the efficiency of the existing healthcare building stock can be dramatically increased.”
An executive summary of the report (pdf) is available from Johnson Controls Institute for Building Efficiency.
The survey results mark the most recent report on hospitals’ and healthcare organizations’ attitudes and efforts regarding environmentally responsibility. Other research findings released this year about the need to green the industry and coverage of measures taken thus far include:
Priorities: Cost vs. Sustainability — When purchasing equipment and materials, initial cost trumps consideration of sustainable features or life expectancy for the majority of healthcare professionals surveyed by the IFMA Health Care Council and the Corporate Realty, Design and Management Institute. The organizations released results in June of surveys given to attendees at five seminars on energy, economics, the environment and healthcare.
“Envisioning the High Performance Hospital” — Hospitals can reduce energy consumption by 60 percent, and a newly built, code-compliant facility can save about $730,000 a year by redesigning the way they use energy, according to research by the University of Washington’s Integrated Design Lab and healthcare architectural firm NBBJ. The study released in May at the 2010 CleanMed Conference in Baltimore was primarily funded by the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance through its BetterBricks initiative.
Health and Green IT — Healthcare heavyweights Kaiser Permanente, Catholic Healthcare West, supply chain solutions provider Broadlane and the performance-oriented hospital group Premier announce that they are endorsing environmental standards for purchasing and managing IT equipment used in their industry. The declaration made at the annual CleanMed conference came none too soon: UK firm BridgeheadSoftware released global survey results in April showing that for the most part, green IT barely registers a pulse in healthcare.
Giving the OR a Heavy Dose of Green — Practice Greenhealth focuses on one of the largest waste-generating center in hospitals and launches its Greening the OR Initiative at the CleanMed conference.
Greening the Supply Chain — Kaiser introduces a green scorecard to its $1-billion supply chain for medical products. The largest HMO in the U.S. hopes that its best practices for the purchase of everything from gauze to MRIs will influence the industry.
Solar-Powered Hospitals — Kaiser launches a solar initiative. Its first wave involves installation of solar power systems totaling 15 megawatts at California facilities.
Greener Products — General Electric’s ecomagination line adds five new healthcare products in February: a new digital mammography platform; high-efficiency magnetic resonance systems; an enterprise software solution that enables healthcare operations to electronically record patient demographic and clinical information; a bioreactor system for vaccine and other biotherapeutics production that uses disposable bags instead of stainless steel tanks for cell culturing; and a bottle made from plastic instead of glass for contrast media, the substances that are used to make structures and fluids in the body more visible in x-ray and other imaging.
For more GreenBiz.com coverage on greening healthcare, see Thera Kalmijn’s articles “Healthcare Heal Thy Footprint” and “Pharma and Medical Supply Leaders’ Rx for Greener Operations.”