Gundersen Health System Achieves Energy Independence

December 19, 2014

Gundersen Health System, La Crosse, Wisconsin, in October 2014, is the first health system in the nation to offset 100 percent of their fossil fuel use with locally produced energy. Hospitals are energy intensive operations contributing eight percent of US greenhouse gas emissions; yet, Gundersen cut their energy use by 40 percent saving $2 million annually. The energy they do use comes from multiple local sources (see below) including their own campus with solar PV, solar hot water, geothermal heat pumps and woody biomass boiler, the city of La Crosse landfill gas,  Dane county manure digesters, and Cashton, WI and Lewiston, MN wind farms.
 
Gundersen does this to promote public health in everything they do, not only through health care but in their operations. According to their CEO, Dr. Jeff Thompson, Gundersen’s “… actions are keeping nearly 477,000 pounds of particulates out of the atmosphere each year". The byproducts of fossil fuels are known to cause cancer, liver, and kidney diseases; reproductive and respiratory issues; cardiovascular death; and stroke. View Gundersen’s infographic or read more here and here. For technical details, see the USGBC case study.

Cashton Greens Wind Farm
Gundersen Health System collaborated with  Organic Valley, the nation’s largest cooperative of organic farmers, to build Cashton Greens Wind Farm. The two-turbines generate nearly 5 megawatts of energy—enough electricity to power 1,000 homes each year.
 
Solar Hot Water Heater on Child Care Center
Gundersen Health System installed solar hot water panels on the roof of its Child Care Center. Child Care Center offsets are nearly 505 therms or 85% of the Center’s hot water usage needs.  Therm prices vary a lot throughout the year, but averaged $0.81/therm for 2012 for an approximate savings of $410.
 
Gundersen Health System Energized by Landfill Gas
Gundersen Health System and La Crosse County teamed on a project that is turning methane gas from the county landfill into electricity and heat on the Gundersen Health System – Onalaska Campus. The project produces as much energy as the Onalaska Campus consumes, making the campus 100 % energy independent. For more information
 
Gundersen Health System is headquartered in La Crosse, Wisconsin, with hospitals and clinics in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa. For more information on their energy initiatives, call (855) 669-1653 (toll free), e-mail envision@gundersenhealth.org or go to gundersenenvision.org.
 

Municipality/Location: 

La Crosse County

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