— DANVILLE – Geisinger Medical Center received a perfect score on an Environmental Protection Agency test that gauges energy efficiency.
“We thought we’d do well, but we didn’t think we’d score 100,” said Al Neuner, vice president of facilities operation for Geisinger Health System. A graded facility receives the EPA’s Energy Star certification if it achieves a score of 70 or higher. Neuner estimated that only three or four other facilities across the nation aside from Geisinger received a perfect score. The score is based on building data, ranging from lighting requirements to parking space. Geisinger’s stats were compared to those of other medical facilities in its size category, Neuner said.
The criteria for the Energy Star certification “really boils down to energy use per square foot,” he said. A turbine cogeneration unit was a big help in boosting Geisinger’s energy efficiency. The turbine engine, which began operation in January 2012, provides five mega watts of power to Geisinger Medical Center, which is about half the power used by the Danville campus.
The turbine harnesses excess heat produced by electricity usage at the hospital, and also cuts down on the medical center’s carbon dioxide emissions.
Neuner compared the turbine engine to coal power generated at the Montour PPL Power Plant, where only about 31 percent of the energy released from coal can be harnesses for use, with the rest being vented out of the plant. With the turbine, about 80 percent of the energy created is used for power. “Our energy process efficiency is much higher,” he said.
The use of the turbine ensures that Geisinger is putting fewer pollutants into the air than they would relying on coal power, Neuner said. Similar energy saving measures Geisinger has taken across its service area should be responsible for four less premature deaths a year as well as several fewer cases of asthma and lost work days, Neuner said.