Hospitals Failing to Adopt Energy Efficient Technologies, Survey Finds

Hospitals Failing to Adopt Energy Efficient Technologies, Survey Finds

It's not overstating the case to say that the healthcare industry has a long way to go in order to fully embrace sustainability. Indeed, we've reported a number of times in just the past year about how and where hospitals can go greener.

But a new survey of healthcare professionals finds that, despite broad recognition of the importance and benefits of sustainability projects -- notably energy efficiency -- there is an even more widespread undervaluing of the energy and cost savings from greening hospitals.

The survey, conducted by the Corporate Realty, Design & Management Institute, looked at regional responses to questions about implementation and benefits of hospitals' sustainability initiatives. At the top level of findings, everyone believes that energy rates will go up -- and some believe they'll go up more than twice as fast as the government predicts -- but in almost every city, respondents dramatically underestimated the amount of money hospitals can save by becoming more energy-efficient.

Almost two-thirds of respondents said that every dollar a hospital saves on energy equals $10 of revenue -- that there's a ten-fold payback on efficiency investments. But the reality is much higher: CRDMI says that revenue boosts are actually $25 per dollar of energy savings.

Respondents were widely pessimistic about how their industry is performing: 56 percent believe healthcare is performing worse than other industries on sustainability issues, while just 5 percent believe it's performing better. And perceived greenwashing in the industry is rampant: 81 percent believe it's more common now than two years ago.

A trend that we first reported on this summer seems to continue to hold true: Healthcare purchasers are putting cost before sustainability almost across the board, by a margin of 83 percent to 7 percent.

That's not to say progress isn't being made, if slowly. GreenBiz.com contributor Thera Kalmijn this year wrote a two-part series looking at how the healthcare is addressing is environmental impacts, and one of the EDF Climate Corps' fellows this year looked at how the HCA Healthcare can boost its energy efficiency.

The full survey results are available for free download from the CRDMI's website, squarefootage.net.

Photo CC-licensed by Mustafa Khayat.