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.
The campus also creates chilled water used for air-conditioning at night, when energy costs are lower by about a third.
Variable frequency drives are also used in the power plant of the campus to ensure an exact amount of energy is used by a machinery, and that no extra power is wasted.
In July, Geisinger’s chief support services officer, Bob Davies, reported that energy costs at Geisinger had gone down even as its size expanded. In 2008, the cost for gas and electricity was $3.01 per square foot of its 1.7 million square feet of facilities. As of 2011, Geisinger is only paying $1.69 per square foot for a 2.2 million square foot campus.