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The Sustainable Energy for All initiative was launched by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to mobilize action and partnerships focused on sustainably meeting the increasing energy requirements of businesses and society.
The initiative has set three primary objectives, to be met by 2030:
This report looks at the health care industry and identifies three priority actions it can take to reduce its energy use while simultaneously driving high performance.
The provision of health care represents a highly energy-intensive activity in developed countries, as well as many developing countries. According to estimates, the average health care facility can use over three times the annual energy consumption of a typical commercial building.
In the United States, health care buildings account for 9 percent of total primary consumption for all commercial buildings. As more developing countries improve their health care facilities, the energy intensity of the sector is expected to rise.
An important distinction in terms of energy use is between outpatient facilities and inpatient care. Outpatient care is often at a medical office and has an energy consumption profile similar to a traditional office building. Inpatient care facilities, however, have higher energy consumption profiles.
Also, these facilities often require precise temperatures; humidity and air pressure controls; laundries and higher water temperatures to kill bacteria. Hospitals require continuous power for patient care and close monitoring of peak demand, underlining the importance of consistent access to energy.
The issue of continuous power is a key concern for rural and urban areas in developing countries. This, combined with a rise in energy use, underlines the importance of energy efficiency and renewable energy in the health care industry.
The uniqueness of the health care industry is that its three components—facilities, managed care and medical equipment—are needed to save lives and maintain a population’s health. The industry has identified energy efficiency as a key area for the achievement of cost savings and thus sustainable energy is an important business opportunity.
The Sustainable Energy for All initiative aligns closely with efforts to improve the energy efficiency of health care facilities. In a recent global health care survey, cost savings were cited as the No. 1 decision driver to reduce energy use. In addition, 95 percent of respondents reported taking actions to reduce energy in the past year, while 92 percent reported investing in energy projects. A little more than half of the respondents reported setting energy reduction goals.
Cash flow that is freed up from lower energy bills can be used to provide better care for patients and energy-efficiency investments can also enhance brand image, allowing hospitals and other health care providers to attract patients and recruit and retain staff.
The health care industry can take three priority actions to become more energy efficient and to advance its business opportunities in the sustainable energy market:
October 2, 2012
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