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Boston Hospitals Trying To Cut Energy Costs

By Julie M. Donnelly, Boston Business Journal
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BOSTON (CBS) - Partners HealthCare, one of 10 hospital systems that has joined a nationwide health care consortium designed to reduce health care’s environmental impact, says it will save $15 million per year as part of an energy overhaul.

Partners is the parent of Massachusetts General Hospital and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

The Healthier Hospitals Initiative, launched by California’s Kaiser Permanente, includes 500 hospitals nationwide who will take steps to conserve energy, reduce use of toxic chemicals, and reduce waste, including hazardous waste.

“If hospitals’ fundamental commitment is to health then we have a unique obligation to be leaders in positive environmental change,” John Messervy, director of capital facility planning at Partners, told the Boston Business Journal.

Messervy said the health care sector is responsible for 16 percent of energy use in the country, and Partners spends $100 million per year, including $60 million at the buildings it owns and $40 million at its leased buildings. The goals is to reduce energy use by 25 percent at the buildings owned by Partners, by 2014.

While the hospitals have made a commitment to the environment, it’s clear that cost pressures have played a part in the coalition’s focus on energy conservation.

“We have six different goals and it’s clear that is one reason why all the systems have chosen to take on this one,” Messervy said. “It’s low-hanging fruit.”

Messervy said the Partners program involves investments in newer, more efficient equipment, as well as changing energy policies at the hospitals.

For instance, Partners decided to amend its practice of replacing the air 25 times per hour in operating rooms, an important strategy in reducing infection. The hospitals will now stop replacing the air in operating rooms when they are not in use.

Partners also plans to start producing its own electricity and hot water. The system’s first co-generation plant will be built at the new Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Charlestown.

The national coalition also includes Nashville, Tenn-based Vanguard Health Systems, the parent of MetroWest Medical Center ,with hospitals in Natick and Waltham, and Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester.

Lisa van der Pool of the Boston Business Journal can be seen weekdays at 6 a.m. on WBZ-TV.

You can follow Lisa on Twitter at @lvanderpool.

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