Edgerton Hospital’s geothermal energy pays off
EDGERTON, Wis. — Edgerton Hospital’s groundbreaking idea to use geothermal energy to heat and cool the facility is now paying off.
The hospital celebrated being open for five years in October and the amount of money it has saved in natural gas costs during that time has already paid for the roughly $850,000 geothermal system.
“Originally, it was projected that it would take us 11 years to recoup that cost,” CEO Jim Schultz said. “As of October, we were 5 years old, and we have now paid for the system and are saving about $15,000 a month in energy.”
The geothermal energy system continuously pumps a glycol-water solution through an intricate underground system. As the fluid is pumped outside the hospital, the ground temperature either heats it up or cools it down and then it’s sent back into the hospital to be used for heating and air conditioning.
“We do not burn any fossil fuels for heating and cool and, therefore, we are not polluting the air,” Schultz said. “We wanted to be a model of healthcare, so we wanted to be very sustainable.”
This type of system is unusual in hospitals. Schultz said he’s only aware of about eight hospitals in the country that use geothermal systems. In Wisconsin, Edgerton Hospital was the first.
“When we proposed this idea to the state, they did not have any regulatory guidelines for installing it in a healthcare facility like ours,” Schultz said. “So the state of Wisconsin actually spent time on our site, beginning to write the regulations for future installation of geothermal in Wisconsin in hospitals.”
The hospital’s groundbreaking work has been recognized locally and nationally. In 2014, the Wisconsin Green Building Alliance gave Edgerton Hospital a special citation for its geothermal system and other rare hospital features, including windows that open in patient rooms and low VOC materials for cleaner air.
“Everything we’ve done was to enhance the patient experience and be a model for them of what health care should be,” Schultz said. “If we’re providing it, then we ought to present an image of the best possible experience they could have here.”
National company Press Ganey also recently awarded Edgerton Hospital its 2017 Guardian of Excellence Award for patient experience. In order to win, hospitals must stay in the top 5 percent of Press Ganey clients across the country for one year.
“That means our doctors, our nurses, all of our staff have maintained an environment and provided the best experience for patients when they come to Urgent Care and our Emergency Department,” Schultz said.
In addition to the geothermal system, the hospital is evaluating other ways to conserve energy.
“We would really like to become more self-sufficient in our electricity use,” Schultz said.
He said the hospital is exploring using LED lights and possibly wind or solar energy.
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