Health care organizations can benefit from a program managed by the Environmental Protection Agency that saved consumers more than $9 billion last year.

Last year, ENERGY STAR® helped Americans save enough energy to power 20 million homes, reducing greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to that of 18 million cars—all while saving consumers $9 billion. Additionally, more than 15,000 office buildings, hospitals, schools, and hotels have benchmarked their energy performance on the ENERGY STAR rating system as a basis for future progress.

 ENERGY STAR is a program managed by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that helps businesses and individuals protect the environment through superior energy efficiency. The ENERGY STAR logo makes energy efficiency easy, because it identifies the best performing products, homes, buildings, and organizations. For health care organizations, superior energy management is an important aspect of environmental management that can provide healthy dividends.

The Value of Strategic Energy Management
To meet patient needs, health care organizations spend more than $6 billion on energy each year.1 Every dollar a nonprofit health care organization saves on energy is equivalent to generating new revenues of $20 for hospitals or $10 for medical offices. For-profit hospitals, medical offices, and nursing homes can boost earnings per share by a penny by reducing energy costs 5%.

Because a strategic approach to energy management can produce twice the savings as do typical approaches—for both the bottom line and the environment—ENERGY STAR offers a proven energy-management strategy that helps organizations measure current energy performance, set goals, track savings, and gain recognition for success.

EPA Congratulates ENERGY STAR Award Winners

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David Powers Homes
Eastman Kodak Company
ei3 Corporation
Ence Homes
Energy Services Group
Engle Homes Colorado,a division of TOUSA Homes,Inc.
Food Lion,LLC
Fremont Unified School District
GE Consumer Products
General Motors Corporation
Giant Eagle,Inc.
Good Earth Lighting,Inc.
Gorell Enterprises,Inc.
Lennox Industries Inc.
Lowe ’s Companies,Inc.
MaGrann Associates
Nevada ENERGY STAR Partners
Pardee Homes
Providence Health System
Pulte Homes Nevada Operations
Sea Gull Lighting Products,Inc.
Servidyne Systems,LLC
Transwestern Commercial Services
University of Michigan
USAA Real Estate Company
Veridian Homes
Whirlpool Corporation
Ace Hardware Corporation
American Hotel &Lodging Association
CenterPoint Energy
Efficiency Vermont and Partners
The Home Depot
The Institute for Sustainable Energy at
Eastern Connecticut State University
Maytag Corporation
Minnesota Power,an ALLETE Company
Nevada Power Company
New England Joint Management Committee
New York State Energy Research and Development Authority
Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance
Oncor Electric Delivery Company
Pacific Gas and Electric Company
Sacramento Municipal Utility District
San Diego Gas and Electric
Sears,Roebuck and Co.
Sierra Pacific Power Company
Southern California Edison
Southern California Gas Company
Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency
Sponsoring Organizations of NEEP
Vermont Energy Investment Corporation
Vermont Gas Systems
Wisconsin ’s Focus on Energy Program
 For helping Americans prevent the greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to about 18 million cars and for protecting our environment for future generations. ENERGY STAR is a program administered by the US Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy, designed to help businesses and individuals protect the environment through superior energy efficiency.

The ENERGY STAR Approach
Organizations that adopt a systematic approach to energy management can achieve cost savings as high as 30%. Based on the practices of successful partners, ENERGY STAR has identified an effective seven-step approach for a high-performance energy management strategy:

1) Commit to Continuous Improvement
Organizations seeing the financial returns from superior energy management continuously strive to improve their energy performance. Their success is based on regularly assessing energy performance and implementing steps to increase energy efficiency.

No matter the size or type of organization, the common element of successful energy management is commitment. Organizations make commitments to allocate staff and funding to achieve continuous improvement.

To establish their energy program, leading organizations form dedicated energy teams and institute energy policies.

2) Assess Energy Performance
Understanding current and past energy use is how many organizations identify opportunities to improve energy performance and gain financial benefits.

Assessing performance is the periodic process of evaluating energy use for all major facilities and functions in the organization and establishing a baseline for measuring future results of efficiency efforts.

3) Set Performance Goals
Performance goals drive energy management activities and promote continuous improvement. Setting clear and measurable goals is critical for understanding intended results, developing effective strategies, and reaping financial gains.

Well-stated goals guide daily decision-making and are the basis for tracking and measuring progress. Communicating and posting goals can motivate staff to support energy-management efforts throughout the organization.

4) Create an Action Plan
With goals in place, your organization is now poised to develop a road map to improving energy performance.

Successful organizations use a detailed action plan to ensure a systematic process to implement energy performance measures. Unlike the energy policy, the action plan is regularly updated—most often on an annual basis—to reflect recent achievements, changes in performance, and shifting priorities.

5) Implement the Action Plan
People can make or break an energy program. Gaining the support and cooperation of key people at different levels within the organization is an important factor for successful implementation of the action plan.

Reaching goals frequently depends on the awareness, commitment, and capability of the people who will implement the projects defined in your action plan.

6) Evaluate Progress
Evaluating progress includes formal review of both energy-use data and the activities carried out as part of the action plan as compared to performance goals.

Evaluation results and information gathered during the formal review process is used by many organizations to create new action plans, identify best practices, and set new performance goals.

7) Recognize Achievements
Providing and seeking recognition for energy management achievements is a proven step for sustaining momentum and support for a program.

Providing recognition to those who helped the organization achieve these results motivates staff and employees and brings positive exposure to the energy-management program.

Receiving recognition from outside sources validates the importance of the energy-management program to both internal and external stakeholders, and provides positive exposure for the organization as a whole.

 Tools and Resources Available Online
ENERGY STAR provides the tools and resources needed to implement a successful energy-management strategy. Technical guidance, procurement policies, demonstrated best practices, communications resources, and awards will help distinguish an organization as an environmental leader.

EPA’s National Energy Performance Rating System  
EPA’s national energy performance rating system, in Portfolio Manager, is a free Internet-based system specifically designed to help businesses track and objectively compare energy use, for both individual and large groups of buildings, on a continual basis.

The rating system uses a 1 to 100 scale to give relative meaning to energy use: A rating of 50 signifies average performance. Hospitals that rate 75 or higher are eligible to receive the Energy Star from the EPA for top performance. The rating system enables organizations to:

  • Establish a baseline energy performance;
  • Compare a facility’s energy performance to similar facilities across the   United States; and
  • Track and manage a facility’s progress over time by regularly rebenchmarking.

ENERGY STAR Target Finder  
Target Finder is an Internet-based tool that lets one select an energy performance score from 50 to 100 for building designs. It is also an energy performance rating scale that assigns a score to estimated energy consumption. With Target Finder, one can check progress by comparing a design’s energy simulation to the target at various stages of the design. The difference between an organization’s design and the target (if the target score is higher) is an opportunity for saving energy and money.

ENERGY STAR Financial Value Calculator  
This calculator analyzes portfolio-wide or single-building opportunities using a variety of metrics, ranging from simple payback to increased earnings per share based on various levels of energy reductions.

A health care organization has the opportunity to choose ENERGY STAR qualified products, such as TVs, VCRs, computers, and other office equipment when purchasing products. The Products link explains more about how much money can be saved by procuring products that use 25% to 50% less energy without compromising quality or performance.

Free, online training sessions can help jump-start a health care organization’s partnership with ENERGY STAR, educate staff on the use of ENERGY STAR tools, or provide further education to already-active staff about the depth of ENERGY STAR’s tools and resources. Participation is easy and convenient and requires only a computer and telephone.

ENERGY STAR is a voluntary program that gives businesses and institutions the power to reduce emissions that cause global warming while enhancing their financial value. By partnering with ENERGY STAR, an organization demonstrates environmental leadership, improves its energy efficiency, and saves money. It can get the recognition it deserves, with many opportunities to highlight achievements within the organization and to the public.

To partner with ENERGY STAR, the CEO, CFO, or top administrator must sign the partnership letter committing the organization to continuous improvement of its energy efficiency. As part of this commitment, it agrees to:

  • Measure, track, and benchmark its energy performance;
  • Develop and implement a plan to improve its energy performance, adopting the ENERGY STAR strategy; and
  • Educate its staff and the public about its partnership and achievements with ENERGY STAR.

To join ENERGY STAR contact the US Environmental Protection Agency, MC 6202J, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20460, or contact the author by phone at (202) 343-9146; or via e-mail at [email protected].  

Case Study: Houston Shriners Hospital

Built in 1996, the Shriners Hospitals for Children in Houston is a 248,775 square-foot facility dedicated to providing free pediatric orthopedic health care services. Facility energy performance is a responsibility shouldered by Delbert Reed, the director of engineering/maintenance and energy manager, along with support from four engineers and three other staff members. Together, the team has assessed multiple energy-saving opportunities as part of Shriners’ Energy Management Initiative, a program that has saved the hospital 40% in energy costs since 1997.

After attending EPA‘s benchmarking training session at the American Society for Healthcare Engineering’s 2002 annual conference, Reed compared Shriners’ performance with similar facilities nationwide using EPA’s rating system. On ENERGY STAR’s 1 to 100 performance scale, Reed found that his facility rated a 42, eight points below the industry average of 50. In essence, Shriners was using energy less efficiently than 58% of its peers.

Facilities with ratings below industry average are good candidates for capital improvements. Reed surveyed and analyzed space-use patterns throughout the hospital and realized that substantial amounts of energy could be saved in areas of the hospital where conditioning requirements vary. His conclusions convinced senior management to augment the existing HVAC system with a 1.5-ton unit to condition the 24-hour security office, creating more efficient after-hours operations.

With the enhanced split-HVAC system in place, Reed invested in training to ensure that key personnel knew how to operate and maintain the new system. HVAC certification and refrigeration maintenance were considered essential to optimize performance. In addition, Reed used local service providers to install upgraded chilled water pumps and new variable frequency drives. He also balanced the air and water systems, installed lighting controls and mechanical timers, and scheduled the air handlers and lighting to match operational hours.

After incorporating these changes, the energy performance rating at Shriners climbed 33 points (to a 75) in 1 year, putting them in the top quartile of energy performers across the country. For this achievement, EPA awarded Shriners the ENERGY STAR label in 2003. Senior management was pleased with federal recognition of their facility as well as the 24% savings in energy consumption (and additional savings through energy contract negotiations) that went directly to their bottom line.

When asked about his experience, Reed says, “Some facility managers say they don’t have time to look into energy-saving measures, but I see how these technologies and operational changes have saved us money every single month. You can’t control how much utilities cost, but you can control how efficiently you use what you buy.”

Clark A. Reed is the national health care manager for ENERGY STAR at the US Environmental Protection Agency.

1. Energy Information Agency, Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey. 1995. Available at: Accessed May 6, 2004.