Atlantic Health System Commits to Decarbonizing the Health Care Sector
November 11, 2022
The Atlantic Health System was celebrated yesterday by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) at the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) for pledging continued action to decarbonize the healthcare sector. health and make health facilities more resilient to the effects of climate change.
The Morristown-based health system has officially committed to pursuing the Biden administration’s climate goal of reducing emissions by 50% by 2030 and reaching net zero emissions by 2050. In fact, the he organization is already building on its success in implementing renewable and sustainable energy as a reliable power source for its hospitals.
A September 2021 consensus statement from more than 200 medical journals named climate change the number one threat to global public health. Additionally, the healthcare sector contributes to climate change, accounting for approximately 8.5% of US domestic emissions.
The HHS Office of Climate Change and Health Equity (OCCHE), part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health, developed the White House/HHS Health Sector Climate Pledge to help to target industry’s response to climate challenges. In addition to reducing their carbon footprint, signatories also commit to producing detailed plans to prepare their facilities for chronic and acute catastrophic climate impacts.
One hundred and two major healthcare companies in the United States have signed the White House/HHS Health Sector Climate Pledge, including organizations representing 837 hospitals as well as leading healthcare centers, providers, insurance companies, organizations purchasing groups, pharmaceutical companies, etc. Federal systems like the Indian Health Service (IHS), Veterans Health Administration (VHA), and Military Health System (MHS) work together to achieve goals similar to those these private sector organizations have adopted. Combined, this means more than 1,080 federal and private sector hospitals have made such commitments, together representing more than 15% of US hospitals.
Atlantic Health System’s two teaching hospitals, Morristown Medical Center and Overlook Medical Center, are currently powered by combined heat and power (CHP) plants – in Morristown, a cogeneration plant and a tri-generation plant at Overlook. Cogeneration plant uses natural gas powered turbine, or jet engine, while trigeneration uses reciprocating engines – to generate electricity. The by-product of the engines is heat, which is then converted to steam, which is used by hospital boilers for heating and hot water throughout the facility.
In winter, when demand is lower, the plants can supply almost all of the hospitals’ electricity needs. In the summer, when heating is not needed, the boilers can continue to produce hot water for sterilization needs. Each plant provides greener electricity by taking the equivalent of 2,640 gasoline-powered cars off the road each year.
Working in tandem with the hospital’s emergency generators, the power stations also provide additional protection against potential utility power outages. This has never been more evident than in 2012 – as Super Hurricane Sandy caused public power outages across the region, Overlook’s tri-generation plant was able to not only keep the hospital fully powered , but also allowed community members to charge their cell phones in the hospital lobby.
In addition to CHPs, Atlantic Health System is working to install solar panels at each of its medical centers, as well as its Rockaway Pavilion, which will generate a portion of each facility’s electricity or power a water heating system. hot solar thermal.
“As leaders in healthcare, we recognize the impact of our operations and sourcing practices on the environment and the health of our communities,” said Brian Gragnolati, President and CEO of Atlantic Health System. “We have proven that by operating more sustainably, we can improve the well-being of our patients, our team and our neighbors while delivering care more efficiently and independently.”
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