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Addressing Healthcare's Energy and Climate Change Challenges

By Nick DeDominicis
Healthcare Design Magazine

Rapidly accelerating climate change, caused by greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels, is resulting in dangerous environmental events and serious public health consequences. In its recently released Fourth Assessment Report (http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/syr/ar4_syr.pdf), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the leading authority on Climate Change, recently concluded that global atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide have increased markedly as a result of human activities primarily because of the burning of fossil fuel.

Results from the 2003 U.S. Energy Information Administration survey (http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/cbecs/cbecs2003/detailed_tables_2003/detailed_tables_2003.html) illustrate that buildings are responsible for almost half of the energy consumed in the United States and 48% of all greenhouse gas emissions. Inpatient healthcare facilities use approximately twice the energy as office buildings of the same size, second only to the food service industry in energy intensity. Clearly, the healthcare industry's intensive use of conventional energy contributes disproportionately to the public health consequences of human-induced climate change.

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