Decarbonization and Energy Efficiency Strategies for Health Care Facilities

The health care industry has the highest energy intensity of all publicly-funded buildings, emitting 2.5 times more greenhouse gas emissions than commercial buildings, according to an article by the World Economic Forum.

The health care sector’s emissions footprint is equivalent to roughly 4.4% of the total global net emissions, with the United States, China and the European Union representing 56% of the world’s total health care climate footprint, according to Healthcare Without Harm.

These high emissions are generated in part to the complex nature of these institutions. The large, sophisticated buildings house diagnostic and therapeutic medical equipment, HVAC and ventilation systems designed to mitigate the spread of viral and bacterial infections, and precision control systems and parameters programmed to create sterile environments for patient safety.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, more than 60% of energy spend is tied up in the building equipment used to operate 24/7/365 care facilities.

In addition to building emissions, greenhouse gases (GHGs) emitted by human activity intensify global warming, increasing the chances of natural disasters and/or air pollution. These variations in the climate are directly related to an increase in incidents of cardiovascular, respiratory and/or infectious diseases, according to the 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report. Hospitals will require more beds to care for the influx of patients and rising medical needs.

Transitioning to net-zero emissions starts with individual health systems

Understanding the long-term negative impact GHG emissions have on the environment and public health, the Biden Administration set regulatory direction across industries to reduce emissions to 50-52% below 2005 levels by 2030. This along with other directives across all levels of government are driving a hospital decarbonization movement aimed to help contain the climate crisis.

Transitioning the health care sector to net-zero emissions begins with individual health care networks. Health care systems can benchmark facility and portfolio-wide energy performance by measuring, tracking and trending data streams from building management systems and energy meters to measure energy consumption and performance. The data can help identify inefficiencies within the facility and campus envelopes and compare energy usage against historical performance and industry standards. Energy benchmarking facilitates the identification of inefficiencies and set realistic goals for improvement.

Strategies for energy conservation in health care facilities

On top of establishing energy benchmarks and building performance standards, health care institutions may consider additional energy conservation measures to address efficiency and decarbonization goals.

For example, upgrading old, energy-intensive building equipment to smart, high-efficiency equipment can reduce reliance on fossil fuels. Implementing microgrids and other renewable energy sources into a network’s power mix can further support power requirements and add resiliency to operations. Other energy conservation measures may include installing energy-efficient boilers, chillers, heat pump technology, LED lighting and power quality correction that can add up to substantial energy savings, which in turn can be used to finance the upgrades.

Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled smart sensors on mechanical and electrical assets can be integrated into a building management system to provides facilities staff with actionable insights from custom dashboards to support daily operations and allow for fine-tune adjustments and automation of temperature, humidity and airflow.

Smart sensors, intelligent building controls and advanced metering can also be integrated into an enterprise building management system, pulling in data from multiple sites to centrally monitor and adjust performance optimization standards. In addition, these technologies can send automated fault detection and diagnostic reports to prevent unplanned downtime of assets and streamline work orders.

To achieve aggressive GHG reduction timelines, health care institutions must take a proactive approach to reducing their energy consumption and lessen their environmental impact. The global shift towards decarbonization is not just a trend; it is critical to ensure a sustainable and resilient health care system. By recognizing the extreme implications of the energy-intensive aspects of operations, health care institutions can contribute significantly to the global effort to combat climate change, ensuring a healthier planet for current and future generations.


Stark Tech is a market leading technology provider, delivering turnkey solutions with master systems integrationequipment, and service, and building analytics that drive sustainability goals and keep facilities on their mission. Stark Tech also manufacturers large, skidded equipment that decarbonizes and reduces greenhouse gas emissions through renewable energy sources and by converting waste into renewable natural gas.

Scott Drabek has been in the facilities management and services industry for 30 years. Drabek is the director of sales for Stark Tech, assisting the regional offices on the East Coast as well as national projects. He has been a part of numerous health care projects providing energy and sustainable solutions.

This article was originally featured on the Buffalo Business First website. To view the original article, click here.