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State and Local Climate and Energy Program

The Chicago Green Health Care Initiative

Chicago, Illinois

Federal Funding: $500,000
Project Timeline: February 2010 – December 2012

Latest Update

The City of Chicago has developed an approach to work with hospitals to reduce energy consumption. The Chicago Green Healthcare Initiative (CGHI) team is promoting the initiative through public events, CGHI Peer Exchange meetings for Facility and Environmental Services Managers, a CGHI Peer Exchange newsletter, and a website. As of September 2012, 21 hospitals have signed the CGHI pledge. Ten hospitals have conducted energy assessments, and nine have received steam audits. The CGHI team is also working closely with hospitals to provide energy efficiency support and has confirmed plans with two more hospitals to help with energy assessments. The team is also evaluating the status of hospitals in energy use, waste management, and general approaches to greening operations through a CGHI Survey. The Chicago Conservation Corps (C3) has continued to distribute educational and outreach materials to inform Chicago residents of the connections between healthy living and climate change impacts. C3 leaders worked on projects related to home weatherization, alternative transportation and air quality, urban agriculture and local food issues, and indoor home health, educating nearly 200 community members in the process. The City of Chicago is continuing to work with hospitals to engage them in CGHI, facilitate use of EPA's Portfolio Manager and WasteWise Program, and to complete facility surveys. The City is attempting to continue and expand CGHI work via other funding sources once the EPA grant ends, and will also continue to conduct public outreach and support existing partnerships.

Project Summary

Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the Health Care Sector by Reducing Hospitals' Energy Use

EPA estimates that the U.S. health care sector's current annual electricity use of 73 trillion kilowatt-hours (kWh) contributes $600 million per year to health care costs via increased asthma and other respiratory illness. In an effort to address Chicago's health care sector air pollutant emissions, the City of Chicago has partnered with Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) to create the Chicago Green Health Care Initiative (CGHI). The goal of this partnership is to protect public health by significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) and other air pollution generated by energy use in the health care sector. CGHI is assisting seven Tier I hospitals (those implementing top-to-bottom institutional change) in reducing energy use by 5 to 10 percent and helping 15 Tier II hospitals (those addressing only the areas of top priority) to reduce energy use by 5 to 10 percent. Typically, hospital energy use increases by 1 to 3 percent annually. CGHI will also work with Tier III and Tier IV participants (those providing education on emissions reductions, but no direct funding) to improve energy efficiency across the entire Chicago health care sector by 5 to 15 percent. The ultimate goal of the project is to work toward carbon neutral health care facilities.

CGHI recognizes that much of the energy used by the health care sector is unnecessary. U.S. hospitals consume approximately twice the energy as do office buildings of the same size, and roughly twice the energy of comparable health care facilities in European countries. Prior to the creation of CGHI, the City of Chicago worked collaboratively with five research teams to devise a Comprehensive Climate Action Plan (CCAP), which involved generating a GHG emissions profile for Chicago. The resultant emissions profile demonstrated that energy use by hospitals and other buildings is one of the primary contributors to Chicago's GHG emissions.

The environmental impact of Chicago hospitals' energy use is currently being calculated with ENERGY STAR's Portfolio Manager, Dartmouth Hitchcock's Eco-Health Footprint tool, and Practice Greenhealth's (PGH's) Energy Impact Calculator. CGHI also will use PGH's Green Guide for Health Care, which is a comprehensive guide to build and operate energy-efficient and environmentally-responsible health care facilities.

CGHI will help hospitals reduce energy use by 5 to 15 percent by helping facilities to overcome the "capital hurdle" associated with the costs of audits and the purchase and installation of new equipment. This program will provide a model for other facilities around the country; disseminating information on the successes and lessons learned will be one of the key components in the success of CGHI.

Community Characteristics

Population 2.7 million
Area 227 square miles
Government Type City
Community Type Urban
Median Household Income $46,767

Program Results

  Reported Results (as of September 2012) Projected Cumulative Results
Annual GHG Reductions 9,469 mt CO2e 3,369 mt CO2e
Number of Healthcare Facilities Engaged 21 22

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