Average U.S. Hospital Pays $3/Square Foot for Energy

Grumman/Butkus Associates, a Chicago based, energy efficiency consultancy, released the latest edition of its annual Hospital Energy and Water Benchmarking Survey this month – including usage and costs for fossil fuels and electricity. Since the survey was first conducted more than 20 years ago, the overall fossil fuel usage in healthcare facilities has trended downward, but the consumption of electricity has not decreased significantly, according to survey findings.

The survey also tracks hospitals’ carbon footprints and energy costs-per-bed, all based on data submitted by participating facilities nationwide. The 2016 Edition provides information on usage trends and costs for calendar year 2015, based on data from 137 participant facilities, located in Illinois (56), Wisconsin (31), Michigan (29), Indiana (10), and six other states nationwide.

Average square footage costs for energy were $3.11 in this year’s survey, down a bit from the prior year. 

Carbon footprint results have stayed fairly steady over time, at about 60 pounds of CO2 equivalent per square foot per year.

“If we are going to address the very daunting issue of climate change, the healthcare industry must make greater strides in reducing its carbon footprint,” says G/BA Chairman Dan Doyle. “As the trend data show, not enough progress is being made thus far.”

Reporting facilities displayed a broad range of usage patterns. For instance, a few participants are using more than 200,000 BTU per square foot in fossil fuel annually, compared with a general mid-range of facilities (about 130,000 BTU/square foot/year) and those that used least (75,000 BTU/square foot/year).

Similarly, a few hospitals consume more than 40 kWh/ square foot/year in electricity, compared with a mid-range of about 25 kWh. A few squeaked by with less than 18 kWh/square foot.

The wide differences in usage mean that some participants are paying well over $3/square foot/year for electrical energy, while most are getting by at less than $2.50 – and a few at less than $1.50.

“Facilities that have high unit costs for energy should view this as an opportunity,” says Doyle. “For example, an energy-improvement project that would have a 5-year payback at an ‘average’ facility may have a payback of just 2.5 years or 3 years at a facility with higher unit costs for energy.”

Differences in energy use among similarly sized facilities may be influenced by operating strategies. For instance, facilities that purchase steam from a third party may have higher costs for energy, reflecting the inclusion of labor and capital recovery in addition to raw fuel costs.

Full results and analysis, as well as information about participating in the 2017 survey (2016 data), are available at the company’s website.

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