How did you spend the end of your year? Besides hearty meals and plenty of family time, you probably spent your time strategically planning for the upcoming year. Like many other healthcare systems during strategic planning, you may have also been searching for what can set your system apart from others. The answer could be simpler than you think. Your competitive advantage may lie in the details of your energy supply contingency plan.
Going Beyond Plan A
There are plenty of healthcare systems that have routinely planned out their year, but how many of them do you think considered planning their energy sources for 2014? How many healthcare providers do you think are happy and comfortable with the sustainability – not green sustainability, but supply sustainability – of their energy source? Are you?
The cover story of Buildings magazine’s current issue, “Gear Up for Grid Failure" echoes this concern – a concern Haskell raised in a recent blog, Hospital Energy Issues: IT Data Centers and Cogen Power. Although the likelihood of a Hurricane Sandy or Joplin tornado occurring in your near future is low, inevitably, something similarly unlucky is bound to touch your hospital. Take a look at the recent trends in weather disasters revealed in statistics from the Buildings magazine article below:
The main issue the article addresses is whether your healthcare system is prepared as best as possible when Plan B is necessary. In the event of a major weather event, ask yourself, will your power source sustain your critical systems and equipment, electronic health records and HVAC?
Benefits of a Varied Energy Supply Portfolio
More and more hospitals are investigating the benefits of a varied energy supply portfolio, which may rely on grid-supplied electricity, but can also be supplemented by natural gas fuel and a combination of on-site power sourcing like cogeneration (combined heat and power), solar / wind, or biofuel (waste-to-energy).
Instead of depending 100% on electricity, savvy risk managers are diversifying their power supply. For example, by using 60% electricity, 30% cogeneration and 10% of another source, a hospital can more heavily rely on on-site options.
Combined Heat and Power: A Possible Solution?
According to A Guide for Using Combined Heat and Power for Enhancing Reliability and Resiliency in Buildings, a report from the EPA, HUD, and DOE, “CHP systems allow facilities to remain functional in the event of a disaster and for non-critical loads to resume functionality as quickly as possible. For example, CHP systems with back start capability and other technical requirements can ensure seamless operation during a grid outage.”
If you want to minimize Mother Nature’s effect on your hospital’s efficiency, contact our Energy group to discuss how our team can help you determine how to manage your healthcare system’s energy supply. It is about time you have peace-of-mind heading into next season.