Many large hospitals have taken on full-scale energy conservation projects, but it is not often that you have a community-based health center take on such a daunting task. In fact, Access Community Health Network (ACCESS), the Chicago-based federally qualified health center (FQHC) network, recently was recognized for its efforts toward raising environmental awareness.
The MidAmerican Energy Company granted ACCESS a Certificate of Renewable Energy for the organization's purchasing of renewable energy credits, a distinction that is rare within FQHCs. Along with purchasing renewable energy credits, ACCESS is also effectively undertaking initiatives to promote the use of renewable energy sources and actively encouraging the development of environmentally friendly technologies.
"This recognition is one that is new to the FQHC arena," says LaMar Davis, CHFM, CHSP, ACCESS' Deputy Administrator of Facilities, Planning Design and Construction. "Regarding the purchasing of renewable energy credits, ACCESS will no longer purchase electrical power from coal-fired plants that cause unnecessary pollution. This will reduce the impact of people who suffer from asthma and other respiratory-related illnesses."
As ACCESS continues on its long-term mission of providing outstanding preventive and primary health care to all its patients, this new certification lines up ACCESS' best practices with those of hospitals, and its measures are good for the health of it patients and the community, as well. "This also limits the carbon footprint for the entire ACCESS organization," Davis added.
ACCESS has also installed lighting sensors and retrofitted the existing lighting at more than 85 percent of its health centers to new energy-efficient interior and exterior lighting. "This will greatly reduce the amount of electricity being consumed and the amount of heat load generated from the lights, thus reducing the amount of cooling needed," said ACCESS Facilities Manager Dione Carpenter.
Other measures on tap are investigating how to make rooftop HVAC units more energy efficient by controlling the fan speeds and compressors to match the needs of health centers, i.e., ramping thermostats up and down, based upon space demands and not just having them run continuously.
These steps are not only good for the environment, and they also provide operational cost savings that allow ACCESS to reinvest back into its health centers, services and programs.
About Access Community Health Network: With 35 Joint Commission-accredited community health centers located throughout Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, ACCESS is one of the largest networks of community health centers in the nation. ACCESS offers preventive and primary care services to more than 175,000 patients annually. Follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ACCESSHealth like us on Facebook athttp://www.facebook.com/ACCESSCommunityHealth or visit www.achn.net.