Climate and Energy Resources for State, Local and Tribal Governments

Chicago Green Health Care Initiative

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Chicago, Illinois

Federal Funding: $500,000
Project Timeline: January 2010 – December 2012

Project Summary

EPA estimates that the U.S. health care sector's current annual electricity use of 73 trillion kilowatt-hours (kWh) contributes $600 million per year to health care costs via increased asthma and other respiratory illness. In an effort to address Chicago's health care sector air pollutant emissions, the City of Chicago has partnered with Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) to create the Chicago Green Health Care Initiative (CGHI). The City developed an approach to engage a greater number of hospitals in energy-efficiency projects, and has continued working with hospitals to reduce energy consumption.

The environmental impact of Chicago hospitals' energy use was calculated with ENERGY STAR's Portfolio Manager, Dartmouth Hitchcock's Eco-Health Footprint tool, and Practice Greenhealth's (PGH's) Energy Impact Calculator. CGHI also used PGH's Green Guide for Health Care, which is a comprehensive guide to build and operate energy-efficient and environmentally-responsible health care facilities. The ultimate goal of the project has been to work toward carbon neutral health care facilities. As of the end of the grant funding period, 23 hospitals have signed the CGHI pledge. Ten hospitals have conducted energy assessments, and nine have received steam audits. The CGHI team promoted the initiative through public events, CGHI Peer Exchange meetings for Facility and Environmental Services Managers, a CGHI Peer Exchange newsletter, and a knowledge sharing website.

The Chicago Conservation Corps (C3) continues to distribute educational materials and outreach tools to inform Chicago residents of the connections between healthy living and climate change impacts. C3 leaders worked on projects related to home weatherization, alternative transportation and air quality, urban agriculture and local food issues, and indoor home health, educating nearly 200 community members in the process. The City of Chicago is continuing to work with hospitals to engage them in CGHI, facilitate use of EPA's Portfolio Manager and WasteWise, and complete facility surveys. The City is attempting to continue and expand CGHI work via other funding sources beyond the end of the EPA contract, and will also continue to develop collaborations, conduct public outreach, and support existing partnerships.

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Community Characteristics

Population                                   2.7 million

Area                                          227 square miles

Government Type:                       City

Community Type:                        Urban

Median household income:             $ 46,767

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Final Results

Projected Cumulative Results

Annual GHG Reductions

8,781.7 mt CO2e

3,369 mt CO2e

Number of Healthcare Facilities Engaged




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Lessons Learned

  • Personal relationships have to be leveraged to engage hospitals.
  • Establishing a range of partnerships is required to deliver services.
  • Having a forum where hospital staff can come together and share and learn from each other accelerates learning and supports long term engagement in energy-efficiency retrofit activities.
  • The proposed tier designations originally stated in the grant application were not the most useful way to classify the hospitals and their needs.

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  • Promoting the initiative through public events increases the likelihood of buy-in.
  • Distribute educational materials to increase awareness.
  • Conduct energy/steam audits and assessments of hospitals or other healthcare facilities.
  • Engage with hospitals to leverage existing resources.

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