Good health is directly affected by the environment. It’s why Kaiser Permanente Colorado has worked for years to implement environmentally responsible practices in everything it does — from running medical offices more efficiently to providing employees incentives that encourage them to walk, run, bike, or use public transit to get to work.
On Nov. 8, the state’s largest nonprofit health care provider was recognized at the Clean Energy Means Business Corporate Summit in Denver for its outstanding efforts in implementing renewable energy solutions.
“We believe improving our environment is key to achieving total health — for the mind, body and spirit,” said Brent Bowman, vice president of strategy for Kaiser Permanente Colorado. “We’re constantly challenging ourselves to be a part of the environmental solution while encouraging the entire industry to change how it functions. We’re humbled by the Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association’s recognition of our efforts to improve health through energy conservation.”
Kaiser Permanente serves more than 670,000 Coloradans each day in 31 medical offices along the Front Range, and in Summit and Eagle counties. That’s a lot of people and it takes a lot of energy to ensure that members are getting the care they need at the medical office of their choice.
Using the latest energy technology, Kaiser Permanente is supporting environmental sustainability while driving down operational costs to provide its members with more affordable health care. One way Kaiser Permanente is striving for sustainability is through the installation of solar panels — those flat, shiny black panels that can be seen on rooftops in neighborhoods throughout metro Denver.
Once installed, solar panels allow photons, or particles of light, to knock electrons free from atoms, which generate a flow of electricity. The electricity is then used to reduce electrical demand.
“These solar panels are one small way we continue to contribute energy conservation back to Colorado,” said Clayton (Mitch) Mitchell, executive director for Kaiser Permanente’s National Facility Services.
“In addition to the near countless other programs we’re working on to save energy and money, these panels are an easy, cost-effective solution. They provide a reliable stream of energy that helps save money on our electricity bill, which helps make our care more affordable for our members.”
In addition to the new solar panels that were installed at various Kaiser Permanente Colorado medical offices, the organization installed two standalone solar panel arrays — at their Hidden Lake and Wheat Ridge medical offices. These arrays are a group of 6-x10-foot solar panels that are joined together to make, essentially, one large field of solar panels. By reducing energy demand, the arrays are expected to eliminate more than 2.5 million pounds of CO2 emissions each year.
But sustainability is more than shiny black panels on Kaiser Permanente’s buildings. It’s about reducing the environmental footprint here in Colorado and across the nation. Kaiser Permanente takes that responsibility head-on with other cost-saving initiatives:
Reduce, recycle, reuse
From cardboard and plastic bottles to juice containers and junk mail, Kaiser Permanente recycles as much as it can:
- Recycled more than 15 percent of its total waste in 2016.
- The Kaiser Permanente Colorado Franklin Ambulatory Surgical Center alone has recycled nearly 10,000 pounds of material in the past year.
- Achieved a landfill diversion rate of 67 percent.
- Expanded the composting of food, landscaping waste and waste hand towels from restrooms.
Knock out that energy bill like a light
Kaiser Permanente Colorado is giving its electricity bill a one-two punch with a number of different initiatives:
- LED retrofits for Central Support Services, Regional Offices, as well as Franklin, East Denver and Rock Creek medical offices to reduce energy consumption by 8 to 20 percent.
- Maximum Power Transfer Solution has been installed and tested at East Denver and Franklin medical offices to clear/clean power factor to improve efficiency and minimize energy waste.
- Skyline, Rock Creek, Wheat Ridge, and East Denver medical offices are each rated above 75 and qualify as Energy Star certified.
- Implemented controls for all new magnetic bearing chillers to provide more efficient cooling.
- Retrofitted lighting to replace mercury-containing lamps.
Turn down that thermostat
You know, Kaiser Permanente thinks dad might have been on to something every time he turned down the thermostat.
By dropping its thermostat only one degree Fahrenheit in the winter and raising it one degree in the summer, Kaiser Permanente Colorado is saving 3 percent on its utility bill.
For Kaiser Permanente Colorado, implementing renewable energy solutions is about more than just saving money. It’s a key part of its mission to improve the health of the all the communities it serves — including members and nonmembers alike.