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Conservation corps: New breed of healthcare manager works to dial down energy use and resource consumption

Modern Healthcare
By Ashok Selvam
October 27, 2012

Shortly after hospitals implement energy conservation programs at their facilities, it's not unusual for utility companies to notify administrators that there might be some technical glitches with the electric meters.

A significant drop in energy consumption hardly ever means there's a defect—it just means the conservation efforts are working just fine, says Laura Wenger, executive director of Practice Greenhealth, a national not-for-profit group of healthcare organizations based in Reston, Va., that promotes environmental stewardship. In addition to energy management, the group encourages reduction of waste, elimination of mercury and development of more sustainable building designs. And increasingly, the leader behind the success in achieving such goals is a dedicated sustainability professional collaborating with the many departments within a healthcare organization.

“Hospitals get negative reputations just from the fact of their size and energy usage,” Wenger says, noting the power and water consumption in a typical facility “really makes hospitals a prime area for sustainability initiatives.”

Reducing energy consumption ranks as one of the biggest duties for healthcare sustainability professionals, who hold a variety of titles—often chief sustainability officer.

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