For many healthcare providers, the responsibility to promote wellness goes beyond just taking care of patients when they’re ill. Connections being drawn between energy sources and human health are prompting many healthcare leaders to take a closer look at clean energy and the potential benefits it holds for their patients. These include:
1. A More Attentive and Engaged Medical Staff
The reduced energy costs associated with renewable energy tend to get a lot of attention, but multiple studies show sustainability initiatives can have a positive effect on levels of employee engagement as well. This is significant for patients because the American Medical Association shows a consistent association between levels of employee engagement and the quality of a patient’s overall experience. A hospital’s commitment to renewable energy, therefore, can have downstream benefits for patients. According to a study out of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, companies with strong sustainability initiatives typically enjoy 3% to 3.5% less staff turnover than companies without them, so patients may also benefit from a greater continuity of care.
2. Reduced Health Risks for the Community
The negative impacts of fossil fuels on air quality and health include a wide range of problems. In addition to respiratory problems like asthma, the Environmental Protection Agency includes heart attacks and even premature death amongst the negative outcomes associated with fine particulate matter. The Paris Agreement recognized the climate/health nexus in new ways, detailing the indirect health impacts of a changing ecosystem.
For the average hospital, adding solar to the energy mix can offset as much as 8,350 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year, helping to improve local air quality. By leading such initiatives, hospitals also help to set a positive example in their towns and cities, further extending the health benefits of their actions. One Yale study showed that installing solar significantly increases the likelihood of additional solar systems being installed in the surrounding area.
3. Lower Healthcare Costs for Patients
Of course reducing energy costs is one of the most well-known benefits of renewables, but hospitals may be even better positioned to realize these benefits than most organizations. That’s because with a high volume of patients, multiple floors’ worth of medical devices, and unique climate control needs, hospitals tend to be highly energy- intensive buildings, so the potential for savings is usually very high. One hospital reported using as much power as the entire city of Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Many hospitals choose to pass some of the savings of renewables on to patients and partners, ensuring their services stay affordable and their organizations, competitive. One recent poll showed green initiatives are an important factor for patients when choosing a hospital as well, so renewables may have bottom line benefits for hospitals beyond just the savings on energy costs.
For more information, check out this whitepaper on navigating energy options in the healthcare sector. Another helpful tool is the Healthier Hospitals Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) guide. It helps hospitals understand how to assess the financial impact of renewables at the procurement level.