AdventHealth puts environmental stewardship into action.
Published on: 06-19-2023
As part of a systemwide commitment to environmental stewardship, AdventHealth is advancing facility-level initiatives to help meet environmental targets, including those for climate emissions outlined within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Sector Climate Pledge. AdventHealth signed the pledge in October 2022.
Below are three examples of those initiatives.
Covering 60,000 square feet (more than 5,500 square meters), the 1,806-solar-panel McRae parking garage at AdventHealth Orlando is one of the largest in the Central Florida region. Implemented in 2020, it generates 1.3 million kilowatt hours annually, and is estimated to save more than US$4.6 million in energy costs over its lifetime.
In addition to providing shaded parking, the initiative includes 32 free electric car charging stations for low- to zero-emission vehicles.
“This project is an important initiative [that] will provide long-term benefits for our community, including helping to achieve its sustainability goals,” said Doug Hilliard, senior financial officer for AdventHealth Central Florida Division – South Region.
Ben Fitzgerald, director of environmental services and facilities at AdventHealth, added, “This is a promise to our community that we care for the environment the same way we care for their health. The project has been a catalyst for conversations around design standards for new campuses, health parks, and standalone EDs [emergency departments].”
Fitzgerald facilitated the project’s completion at the height of the pandemic, and said he finds the ability to optimize automated systems rewarding. He recycles in his home and uses an energy monitoring system to track his family’s real-time energy usage and identify wasteful consumption.
“Sustainability cannot happen in a vacuum,” he said. “It takes a village, and it’s important to educate people to manage our natural resources.”
Texas Health Mansfield
A range of onsite initiatives at Texas Health Mansfield began in December 2020 to help the facility efficiently manage resources by lowering energy usage and reducing waste.
These include actions such as the installation and use of 100 percent LED technology in buildings and parking lots; a heat recovery chiller to help reduce energy use; faucets with sensors to control water usage; mechanical equipment with motors and variable frequency drives to improve efficiency; a cardboard recycling program; trash compactor sensors; and an environmentally preferred source for the procurement of paper towels.
“Sustainability has always been a big aspect of my professional journey,” said David Baker, director of facilities at Texas Health Mansfield, a joint venture with AdventHealth. “These projects have had an impact on our carbon footprint, energy conservation, and cost savings.”
Ultimately, the initiatives will help lower energy costs and support improved patient care through a cleaner and less wasteful clinical environment. The facility has achieved substantial cost reductions, including an annual saving of about US$40,000 in trash pick-up, resulting in reduced waste and carbon emissions from trash trucks. Baker said he recognizes the important role sustainability plays in health care, and he is optimistic about contributing to shaping the future.
“I grew up recycling newspapers, bottles, and cans,” Baker said. “Implementing sustainable initiatives helps to improve patient care, which results in healthier and more resilient communities.”
Scott Sukits, director of control systems and energy management at AdventHealth Apopka, said the consistent oversight of the control systems team contributed to his facility’s energy targets. Built in 2014 with an LEED Green Building Rating System design, AdventHealth Apopka is the only ENERGY STAR-certified hospital in the state of Florida, recently obtaining the certification for the second year in a row for 2022.
“I spent 18 years designing all types of buildings that use a lot of energy, including hospitals,” Sukits said. “While energy efficiency is the goal, a key objective is to ensure that the initiatives are safe for the people who benefit from them.”
AdventHealth Apopka has saved US$230,000 in energy and operational costs, conserving 2,000 metric tons in carbon emissions.
In his personal life, Sukits describes a good example of sustainability as turning off lights when not in use. He said he believes when people see themselves as part of a change, they feel better about coming to work and collaborating with teammates.
“I remember when I was little, I was given reusable bags every time I went to the grocery store,” he said. “As small as that initiative was, it reminded me to preserve resources and to contribute toward building a sustainable environment.”