While the rest of the staff was celebrating the facility's one-year anniversary, Mark Roberts, president of 45-bed Muskogee (Okla.) Community Hospital, was at the American College of Healthcare Executives congress in Chicago telling jokes and talking about how his building was the first hospital to earn the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star design recognition.
Green and proud in Muskogee
Also, while a handful of other hospitals use geothermal systems, the EPA stated that Muskogee Community was the only one to use a “closed-loop ground source geothermal system” for all its heating and cooling needs.
Roberts explained that the hospital has 35 miles of pipes in the ground “serving as a radiator” that provide heating or cooling to 77 individual units in the 101,700-square-foot building. He added that the project finished $2.6 million under budget—even with $3.5 million in changes from the original plan—and wound up costing about $419 per square foot.
Since Oklahoma is a major oil-producing state, Roberts acknowledged that it may be considered an odd location for such an alternative-energy project and that when people heard he was going to build a “green hospital,” their first question was: What shade?
“We've had some teething pains and some growing pains, but that's what made it interesting,” Roberts said. “If you're going to set yourself apart, then do something no one else has done.”
Also speaking at the Tuesday morning program was Clark Reed, director of the EPA's Energy Star healthcare facilities division, and he said that some 130,000 buildings have been measured for energy use, with healthcare leading the way with about 80% of the acute-care hospital market participating in the voluntary program.
“With no sticks, all we have are carrots,” Reed said. “This is not an ‘initiative.' Initiatives begin and end. This, I truly believe, is a movement.”
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