Wednesday, July 21, 2021 6:24 PM

Hospital recognized for reducing its energy use and carbon emissions

Community Medical Centers is becoming a greener organization, continuing to make changes that reduce negative impacts on our environment and public health.
 
As part of a national Healthier Hospitals initiative, Community in recent years has partnered with the City of Clovis for its largest recycled water project, increased recycling efforts, reduced harmful chemical usage, installed free electric vehicle charging for employees and physicians, and incorporated energy-saving upgrades.
 
This month, Community Regional Medical Center’s efforts to convert exterior lighting and upgrade cooling systems for the trauma and critical care building to more energy-efficient systems were recognized with a 2021 Environment + Energy Leader Award. The program, now in its ninth year, is judged by unaffiliated experts in the field and honors exemplary work in energy and environmental management. Community Regional partnered with Enovity to reduce operating costs and improve the sustainability of its 685-bed hospital campus.
 
“We’re excited to be recognized for our efforts to not only be more efficient but also reduce costs for our largest hospital,” says Dru Walker, director of facilities planning and construction. “Community always strives to be a greener healthcare system. We know helping create a cleaner, greener environment improves the health of those who live in our region.”
 

Infographic showing energy savings
 

Last year, with Enovity’s help, the downtown Fresno medical center switched out all of the exterior lighting to LED lights on the 58-acre campus, enhancing visibility and nighttime safety, and converted from constant-flow to variable-flow cooling to increase efficiency. In another energy-saving move, Community Regional replaced a 15-year-old chiller in the central energy plant.
 
“With all the expansions at Community Regional Medical Center over the past few years, our central energy plant was nearing its capacity to provide the cooling water needed for air conditioning this campus,” Walker explains. “To provide better cooling for the hospital and ensure we had backup capacity if needed, we upgraded our chiller and pumping distribution system. In the first two months following implementation, we realized nearly 400,000 kilowatts per hour in energy savings.”
 
The new 1,000-ton chiller is noticeably quieter, reduces noise pollution, and helps extend the life of the remaining four chillers needed for the ever-growing medical center, says Walker. The $2.2 million project was completely funded through a program with PG&E to take savings to pay off the costs within 3 to 6 years.
 

Workers install a 1,000-ton chiller
 

“These projects have reduced electricity use on our campus by 10% and cut annual energy costs by nearly $678,000,” Walker says. “But even better, the improved outdoor lighting and cooling helps reduce carbon emissions.”
 
That’s something Community continually strives to do in a region that has some of the nation’s worst air quality, and struggles to meet federal health standards for both ozone (smog) and particulate pollution. The central San Joaquin Valley also has higher than average rates of asthma and lung disease compared to the rest of California. Fresno ranks ninth among U.S. cities for highest number of emergency visits for asthma and asthma-related deaths.
 
Walker adds, “The energy we’re saving with these projects is equivalent to taking more than 290 cars off the highways for a year or powering 126 households for a year.”
 
Community’s Commitment to Stewarding our Resources
Our mission of improving the health of our region includes creating a healthier environment. We are committed to prudently using our fiscal and human resources and working ethically, efficiently and sustainably to provide the best patient care. Read more stories.