Easy steps to lower your home heating costs

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If you live in an area where the autumn season brings chilly temperatures, here are some tips to help save on your heating bill.

Insulate your walls and ceilings adequately. This can save 20 to 30 percent on home heating bills. Have an inspection by a qualified technician if you’ve not looked at your insulation for quite some time. Insulation will compress and shift over time which reduces its effectiveness.

Weatherize your home or apartment, using caulk and weather stripping to plug air leaks around doors and windows. Caulking costs less than $1 per window, and weather stripping is under $10 per door.

Close drapes and window coverings at night. This will reduce the heat lost through windows. During the day, open drapes and coverings to allow the sun to radiantly heat your home.

Use Ceiling Fans to utilize heat more efficiently
Heat rises and much of the heat loss in your home is through the ceiling. Most ceiling fans have a switch to reverse their direction. As you enter the heating season, reverse the direction of your ceiling fans and set them on low. This will better mix the warm and cool air in your home and slow the rate of heat escaping through the ceiling. Ceiling fans do not use much electricity and this will result in a net energy savings.

There are several low or no cost steps that can be taken to lower the cost of heating commercial buildings. Learn more at gundersenenvision.org.

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Gundersen Health System on international stage

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Gundersen Health System took to an international stage again recently to share its work at the intersection of clinical care and sustainable business practices. Jeff Thompson, MD, CEO emeritus and executive advisor, presented Jan. 17 in Beijing at the International Workshop on Green and Sustainable Healthcare Systems and shared sustainability best practices with senior Chinese research and policy officials.

One key outcome of the conference was an agreement between United States-based Health Care Without Harm and other conference attendees to continue work, over the next five years, to strengthen cooperation and establish an exchange and communication mechanism between the U.S. and China on climate, including its impact on global health.

“Chinese leaders for the first time publicly admitted that 1 million Chinese die each year of air pollution and that they are a low tier country when it comes to health and the environment, ” notes Dr. Thompson. But soon, they will be a leader. Last year China put up two wind turbines–and a football field of solar panels–every hour for the whole year!”

For information on Gundersen’s sustainable best practices, visit www.gundersenenvision.org.

 

Help minimize healthcare’s environmental footprint

Are you interested in reducing EUI and GHG at your facility? Envision’s energy consultants can help you identify and prioritize energy efficiency opportunities beyond the “low-hanging fruit.”

Our consulting services include:

Energy efficiency improvement (especially healthcare facilities)

    • Base lining and benchmarking facility performance
    • Lean “kaizen” events to launch an energy management program
    • Common sources of energy waste
    • Validating improvements with measurement systems

Renewable energy project development (from an “owner’s” perspective)

    • Best technology choices for a particular geography (i.e. wind, solar, biogas, biomass, geoexchange, hydro, etc.)
    • Site selection tradeoffs
    • Feedstock considerations
    • Permitting challenges
    • Available Incentives
    • Financial business case development and modeling
    • Contract considerations for equipment supply, construction, and operation
    • Operations and maintenance considerations

Project case studies

    • Commercial wind projects
    • Landfill biogas combined heat and power project
    • Dairy manure anaerobic digester projects
    • Biomass (woodchip) boiler with backpressure steam turbine (co-generation)
    • Geoexchange (ground source) heat pump
    • Heat recovery chiller
    • Solar hot water systems
    • Solar photovoltaic system

Why choose Envision to help you?

Gundersen Health System has set the standard for sustainability—from an innovative recycling and waste management program to a robust energy conservation program to innovative partnerships for renewable energy projects.

We achieved our first days of energy independence, becoming the first health system in the nation to attain the distinction.

Our specific sustainability plans turn good intentions and “green” theory into action, and we can show you how.

For more information or to talk to a consultant, email envision@gundersenhealth.org or call toll-free (855) 669-1653.

www.gundersenenvision.org.

Lower your summer energy bill

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Open windows
On cooler days and nights, turn off your air conditioner and open your windows. Use a fan; it does not use as much electricity as an air conditioning compressor.

Use ceiling fans to cool your house
The most efficient ceiling fans cost as little as 30 cents a month if used eight hours a day. A  window air conditioner can cost 50 times as much as a fan. Ceiling fans will keep the air moving and allow you to keep the thermostat setting higher because moving air feels cooler.

Provide shading for your air conditioning condenser
Your central air conditioner condenser works more efficiently in a cooler environment. Provide shade around your air conditioner to reduce your cooling costs by nearly 3 percent.

Dry a load of laundry on the clothesline
Thirty years ago most clothes were dried outside on the line. Your electric dryer is a large energy user and consumes about 30 cents of electricity per load. During nice weather, try drying some loads the old fashioned way – on the clothesline. It also has the added benefit of a fresh smell for your laundry.

Utilize moisture sensing technology on your electric dryer
Most new electric dryers have sensors that can detect the moisture level in your clothes and shut off the cycle when they are dry.  This saves energy costs when compared to a timed dry cycle which is likely to waste energy after clothes are dry.

Plant trees for shade
Deciduous trees—those that produce leaves in the spring and lose them in the fall—shade your house from the sun during warmer days and let the sun warm your house on cooler days. Shading your home could save up to 8 percent on cooling costs.

Change your air conditioning filter
Clean or replace your central air conditioner filter monthly during the cooling season to improve the efficiency and extend the life of the unit.

Raise your thermostat setting
You can save $25 or more each month during the summer by raising your thermostat temperature from 72 to 78 degrees.

Learn about other ways to save energy at www.gundersenenvision.org.

Introducing the Employee Home Solar Discount program

Register for today’s live webinar, Introducing the Employee Home Solar Discount Program, presented by Practice Greenhealth. This webinar is the first in a series of Green Employee Benefits for Practice Greenhealth members.

The webinar begins at 1 p.m. EDT. Click here to request access to the webinar. If you have problems logging in, contact Peggy Rademaker at prademaker@practicegreenhealth.org.

This new program provides hospitals with an incredible opportunity to offer employees the chance to buy or lease solar systems for their homes at a substantially lower rate than the national average. Implementing the program at your health system or hospital provides a great incentive to engage employees and also contributes to increasing the resilience of their communities.

Health systems that are members of the Health Care Climate Council have been piloting the project. Two of these pilot projects – Mark Platt from Gundersen Health System and Sarah O’Keefe from University Hospitals – will share their stories and experiences during the webinar.

Lauren Kleinman from Practice Greenhealth will present the Toolkit to assist members with implementing this Green Employee Benefit at their own hospitals. As an additional incentive, Practice Greenhealth will announce the details of a contest to award free CleanMed 2017 registrations and lodging to the health systems that establish the best Employee Home Solar programs.

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Mark Platt
Senior Vice President of Business Services, Gundersen Health System
In the role of Senior Vice President of Business Services, Mark oversees the Envision program (Gundersen Health System’s sustainability program), in addition to business development and marketing, business health services, community and preventive care services, corporate communications, external affairs and government relations, facilities, and supply chain. He also leads the strategic planning process as a member of the senior leadership team. Mark received his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Vanderbilt University.

Employees step up to reduce cost of hazardous waste disposal

It is no secret that Gundersen Health System has a nationally recognized in-house pharmaceutical waste program. However, the program wouldn’t be as successful if it weren’t for the hard work of employees who directly handle the pharmaceutical waste. Thanks to them, the program has undergone significant improvements since its creation in 2009.

For example, at the beginning of the program, Gundersen was spending $151,000 per year disposing of pharmaceutical waste. Through comprehensive measures and teamwork, Gundersen spent less than $10,000 on hazardous waste disposal in 2015.

The ongoing efforts of employees allows the program to improve each year. The success is a collaboration of many departments including Pharmacy, Nursing, Environmental Services, Security, Environmental Compliance, Sustainability and Facilities.

The following images showcase a few Gundersen employees who directly participate in the pharmaceutical waste program on a daily basis. Pictured below is Theresa Seebruck, lead pharmacy technician in the Pharmacy department, disposing of pharmaceutical waste in the hazardous waste bins.

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Gundersen’s controlled substance witness waste program prevents controlled substances from being dumped down the sewage drains. Since the creation of the pharmaceutical waste program, 345 pounds of controlled pharmaceutical waste was diverted from going down the sewers in the first six months.

Gundersen no longer flushes any pharmaceutical waste and instead ensures that all pharmaceuticals are incinerated according to best environmental practices. Shown below is Jennifer Lee, also a pharmacy technician, showing how to use the witness waste container.

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Chad Olstad, environmental specialist in Environmental Services, is shown removing a hazardous waste container from a department.

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The waste is taken to Facilities employees  who sort and separate the waste for shipment. These efforts have eliminated the need for a third party vendor to package the waste.

These are just a few examples of employees who participate in the pharmaceutical waste program. Many others are involved in making the program successful and their hard work is commended.

Please share your waste management or other sustainable practices by emailing envision@gundersenhealth.org.

 

 

Gundersen achieves another energy independence milestone

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Gundersen Health System has reached another significant milestone in its effort to be energy independent.

In November 2015, Gundersen produced more energy than it consumed from fossil fuels, the first calendar month since the system announced its first days of energy independence in October 2014.

Achieving energy independence was and remains a challenging and moving target. Hospitals typically use two and a half times more energy than commercial buildings. In Wisconsin, which has one of the most energy-intensive climates in the nation, the challenges are amplified.

Gundersen has met these challenges with fossil fuel energy efficiency improvement of over 50 percent, resulting in a cumulative financial savings of more than $8.5 million from conservation alone. In addition, the health system established regional partnerships for energy generation, including dairy digesters, wind turbines and a landfill gas-to-energy initiative. Local projects also include geothermal energy and a biomass boiler.

“Producing more energy than we consumed for an entire month is a remarkable achievement,” says Jeff Rich, executive director of Gundersen Envision, the organization’s sustainability and environmental program. “We’ve said from the beginning energy independence is a work in progress and we are committed to continuous improvement. Our staff and our local and regional partners should be credited for helping move us closer to the ultimate goal: sustained energy independence that leads to healthier patients and communities, a better environment and lower costs.”

To learn more about Gundersen’s sustainability efforts, visit gundersenenvision.org