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Published on April 21, 2022

Gundersen Sparta Clinic saves green, attracts talent with sustainable model

Gundersen Health System has been a leader in sustainable energy practices, designing new facilities and adapting existing locations to use less energy, reduce the cost of care, and support the local economy. And within the system, there’s no better example than Gundersen’s Sparta Clinic, which was built with the goal of being energy neutral, something it achieved following its completion in 2017.

Gundersen Sparta Clinic was designed to use as little energy as possible, and even generate some of its own. The clinic incorporated both on- and off-site solar panels, a geothermal heat pump, aggressive HVAC scheduling, and specially designed entryway systems, to name a few of the green initiatives. That’s resulted in an energy usage index of 34 kBTUs per square foot; the average clinic in the region uses 70 kBTUs. All told, the Sparta location saves $68,500 a year on utility expenses tied to the energy initiatives.

In 2017, Gundersen Sparta Clinic was certified LEED Gold for building design and construction, and in 2019, the U.S. Department of Energy recognized Gundersen for its energy efficiencies within the clinic. More recently, the system became the second-largest private owner of solar generation in the state of Wisconsin, and with its current projects, including a new clinic in Elroy, Gundersen is projected to take over the top spot on the list.

Not only do these measures make a difference for the Earth, but they make a difference in recruitment. According to Heather Trimborn, program manager in recruitment, it’s a selling point for Gundersen.

“Potential employees want the values of an organization they’re working for to reflect their own personal values,” Trimborn said. “Salary, benefits and healthcare are important, but working for an organization that values the environment and is reducing its carbon footprint is equally important. Gundersen is ahead of that curve.”

For Sara Frank, a West Salem High School graduate, sustainability played a big part in her decision to work at the Gundersen Sparta Clinic.

“I try to decrease my carbon footprint whenever I can, be as green as possible,” said Frank, a Gundersen physical therapist assistant. “It’s important to me that my workplace also has the same values of trying to use renewable resources for energy production and decrease its carbon footprint. I appreciate that Gundersen tries to be green in any area because healthcare is required to be so sterile and ‘single use’ in practice. I see it as Gundersen trying to balance out the scale.”

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