Our energy efficiency efforts support our commitment to healthy communities, fiscal responsibility and carbon neutrality. By reducing operating expenses, such as energy costs, we can invest more capital in projects that support our mission. Our key energy efficiency initiatives include tracking and reporting our consumption, building system automation and controls, equipment and lighting upgrades and caregiver engagement.
Our goal is to reduce our Energy Use Intensity (EUI)—or energy use per square foot of our facilities—by 40% from our 2010 baseline by 2030. To support this goal, we set 2% annual EUI reduction targets. We continue to collaborate with the Department of Energy on efficiency projects and provide publicly accessible reports on our facility-level energy use to support industry benchmarking.
We adjusted our baseline in 2021 to include electricity and natural gas consumption from all of our Florida facilities—including family health centers—and Mercy and Union hospitals. Additionally, we adjusted our electricity factor to a weighted average of Emissions & Generation Resource Integrated Database (eGRID) data tied to our locations by state.
In 2021, our EUI went up for the first time since 2007 by 0.9%, largely due to the demands the COVID-19 pandemic placed on our facilities. We will be refocusing our efforts and investing additional resources in energy efficiency initiatives in 2022.
Cleveland Clinic uses a weather-normalized source Energy Use Intensity (EUI) metric, which measures the efficiency of our facilities relative to their size and accounts for annual weather variances. This metric includes transmission, delivery and production losses of fuel used to generate energy. It also enables us to compare year over year performance even as our building portfolio continues to expand.
Our Sustainability team and facility managers use multiple tools to track our energy consumption, one of which is ENERGY STAR’s Portfolio Manager. This online tool provides data entry and tracking functions for energy and water use, utility costs and factors impacting energy use, such as square footage, number of building occupants and equipment inventories. It also enables us to monitor the ENERGY STAR scores of our facilities, five of which achieved ENERGY STAR certification for their energy efficient operations: Avon, Lutheran, Marymount, Weston and Mercy hospitals.
Our Utility and Energy Management Committee, formed in 2020, continued to meet monthly in 2021. This cross-functional committee:
- Reviews progress on goals and discrepancies related to utility consumption.
- Shares ideas, updates and best practices on the management and efficient use of utilities.
- Collaborates on initiatives such as energy reduction, demand response and curtailment, procurement strategies and more.
Tracking and improving our EUI is a team effort. To keep all of our facility managers informed of our progress and engaged in our energy efficiency efforts, we provide monthly energy performance reports at the facility level. We also regularly engage our green teams in sharing ideas for energy efficiency, championing energy efficiency efforts at their facilities and engaging their fellow caregivers in energy-saving behaviors.
Energy Treasure Hunts
In 2021, cross-functional caregiver teams contributed their time and expertise to identifying low and no-cost energy savings opportunities by participating in energy treasure hunts (ETHs) at Hillcrest, Akron General, Euclid and Avon hospitals. An ENERGY STAR initiative, ETHs provide a framework for engaging interdisciplinary teams in energy efficiency efforts.
The ETH process includes comprehensive facility rounding, during which team members ask questions, share ideas and write down observations on energy use. The team then calculates the cost and return on investment of different initiatives they identified, which they use to develop an implementation plan. These plans also include suggestions for engaging facility occupants in ongoing energy-saving behaviors.
Caregivers who participated in our 2021 ETHs identified more than $200,000 in energy-savings opportunities. By participating in ETHs, caregivers develop a better understanding of energy use at their facility and ways daily behaviors impact consumption. Caregivers on ETH teams often continue to contribute to resource stewardship by participating on green teams, serving as role models and engaging colleagues in our sustainability efforts.
Greening our ORs
ORs are very energy intensive spaces due to required equipment and lighting, temperature and humidity parameters and high number of air exchanges when in use. By decreasing the number of hourly air changes in ORs when unoccupied, we have achieved significant energy savings while still meeting or exceeding all regulations for OR operations.
Cleveland Clinic’s cross-departmental Greening the OR Committee actively works to steward resources in our ORs. Committee members identify opportunities to reduce waste, improve energy efficiency, conserve water, procure greener products and enhance our understanding of the environmental impacts of different instruments and procedures. To drive collaboration, best-practice sharing and greater impact, we combined meetings for our Greening the OR and Greening the Labs Committees in 2021. Activities of caregivers on the Greening the OR & Labs Committee include:
- Piloting and supporting the implementation of landfill diversion programs.
- Sharing expertise, observations and opportunities for improvement.
- Promoting sustainability engagement and education campaigns.
- Championing existing sustainability initiatives.
Committee members also provide support to surgical residents in our Ken Lee Fellowship program, who develop and lead projects to green our operating rooms each year. The Ken Lee Fellowship was created in memory of Cleveland Clinic surgeon, Kenneth Lee, MD, to continue his legacy of environmental stewardship in the operating room. The Ken Lee Fellowship supported its first surgical resident in 2013, and projects to date have included: regulated medical waste reduction, energy efficiency, scrub sink water reduction, medical device reprocessing, reduction and recycling of expired items, carbon footprints of anesthetic gases and reducing waste in surgical procedure packs.
In 2021, we continued to identify and implement energy conservation measures (ECMs) in our facilities to improve energy efficiency and occupant comfort. Initiatives implemented included:
- Ongoing steam trap audits and repairs throughout the enterprise.
- Control optimization and continuous review of mechanical equipment operations and setpoints, including making adjustments as needed to reduce energy consumption and maintain thermal comfort.
- Retro-commissioning of air handling units (AHUs).
- Continued validation, calibration and replacement of sensors that control AHUs.
Combined, these initiatives yielded an estimated $537,500 in annual utility cost savings in 2021.