Lighting, solar projects aim to improve the health of our communities
After becoming the first known healthcare system to offset 100% of its fossil fuel use with locally produced energy, Gundersen Health System decided to expand its efforts systemwide and improve the energy resiliency and autonomy of as many of its clinics and hospitals as possible.
"We're trying to get all of our sites to use 50% or less energy than the national median for a comparable site," said Tim Wilson, manager of Facility Operations.
Thanks to a variety of projects that have quietly continued throughout the pandemic, it's a goal Gundersen is inching closer to in 2021.
Fluorescent light bulbs have been replaced with light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs in about 2,100 fixtures at Gundersen Palmer Lutheran Hospital and Clinics and 1,200 fixtures at Gundersen Boscobel Area Hospital and Clinics. The switch comes with many benefits, such as:
- Improved energy efficiency, which will translate into cost savings of about $47,000 per year at Palmer and $25,000 at Boscobel
- Less harmful waste, since LED bulbs don't contain mercury and other chemicals that can damage the environment once they're thrown away
- A brighter, more welcoming facility for staff and patients
Other similar lighting projects have been completed or will be later this year at the West Salem Warehouse, Gundersen La Crescent Clinic and Gundersen Prairie du Chien Clinic.
Seven new solar projects also will increase Gundersen's solar portfolio, bumping its solar generation capacity from 1.5 megawatts to 3.6. The additional generation will save Gundersen around $275,000 per year.
Locations being outfitted with either a ground or rooftop system include:
- La Crescent
- La Crosse (Logistics Building, Blue Parking Ramp)
- West Salem
Regardless of the specific project, together they reflect Gundersen's commitment to enriching every life.
"I think it's great that we're making progress on our goals and having a positive impact on the environment," Wilson said. "These projects have a direct effect on our Triple Aim, which includes to improve the health or our communities and ease the financial burden of healthcare."