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Tuesday, February 12, 2013 - Gundersen, La Crosse County landfill gas-to-energy project wins national award

Gundersen Health System and La Crosse County’s landfill gas-to-energy project gained national attention last year when it allowed the Gundersen Lutheran – Onalaska Campus to become the first known energy independent medical campus in the country. Now the project has been recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as one of the best in the country for 2012.

The EPA’s Landfill Methane Outreach Program (LMOP) named the Gundersen-La Crosse County project one of its 2012 Projects of the Year (http://epa.gov/lmop/partners/award/2012.html). Gundersen, La Crosse County and project engineering firm Burns & McDonnell received the award on Jan. 30 at the U.S. EPA LMOP annual conference in Baltimore, Md.

“This is a great achievement for Gundersen, La Crosse County and Burns & McDonnell. Even more important than the recognition is what the project is doing for our community. Projects like this one are improving the environment in the communities we serve, helping to lower the cost of healthcare by reducing our energy costs and are good for our community’s future,” says Jeff Rich, executive director, GL Envision, LLC, a subsidiary of Gundersen Health System.

“This has proven to be an outstanding partnership. We’re proud that we can show other communities across the country just what a public-private partnership can achieve,” adds Hank Koch, solid waste director, La Crosse County.

About the landfill gas-to energy project

At the La Crosse County landfill, waste degrades underground. As the solid waste decomposes, it gives off methane gas. That gas had been captured and flared off, and the natural resource went unused.

The project with Gundersen allows the gas to be put to good use. Instead of flaring it off, the County pipes the gas to an engine installed on the Gundersen Lutheran – Onalaska Campus. The landfill gas powers the engine and turns a generator that produces electricity. The clean electricity is sent to the power grid to be used by households and businesses. The engine also creates heat, which is captured and used to heat the buildings and water at the Gundersen Lutheran – Onalaska Clinic and Support Services Building.

Along with making the Gundersen Lutheran – Onalaska Campus 100 percent energy independent, the project represents about 11 percent of the health system’s energy independence goal.

About Envision® at Gundersen

The landfill gas-to-energy partnership with La Crosse County is part of Gundersen’s Envision® program, which is the health system’s vision for environmental stewardship. As part of their Envision program, Gundersen set a goal to become 100 percent energy independent by 2014. In other words, produce more renewable energy than they consume from fossil fuel sources.

In addition to the LMOP Project of the Year award, Gundersen’s Envision program was also recently recognized with an award a little closer to home. RENEW Wisconsin named Gundersen Health System a Customer-Generator of the Year in recognition for the organization’s investment in renewable energy sources.

To learn more about the Envision program, go to www.gundersenenvision.org.

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