As an emergency physician, Alister Martin, MD, MPP, MGH Emergency Medicine, learned countless lessons working through the COVID-19 pandemic.
For more than a decade, Mass General Brigham has focused on reducing energy use across its institutions including at Massachusetts General Hospital. In 2014, five years before the city of Boston required businesses to demonstrate a reduction in emissions, Mass General Brigham began purchasing renewable energy from low impact hydroelectric facilities.
“We were passionate about sustainability this even before carbon reduction was a requirement,” says Dennis Villanueva, senior manager of Energy & Sustainability, Real Estate and Facilities at Mass General Brigham. “We have always recognized our responsibility to do no harm and believe we cannot allow our operations to hurt the planet or our local communities. Fortunately, we started early and have continued to make concerted efforts to move toward the goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2025.”
Mass General has played a major role in leading the system in the quest to become carbon neutral. Generating only 1.83 kilograms of CO2 per square foot in 2019, Mass General Hospital is one of the greenest hospitals in the Boston area. In comparison, the average of all other Boston health care facilities generates of 15.9 kilograms of CO2 per square foot.
Villanueva says the greenhouse gas emissions reduction was made possible thanks in part to the construction of an Mass General Hospital–owned pipeline completed in 2006, that interconnected the Boston steam system to the Kendall Cogeneration Station near Kendall Square. The plant supplies by–product green steam which Mass General Hospital uses to heat its buildings and for domestic hot water, process loads such as sterilization, in the kitchen, etc. Another large contributor to emissions reductions was the long–term purchase of zero emissions–green electricity from a 28.8–megawatt wind farm in Antrim, New Hampshire. Lastly, an important reduction in emissions resulted from Mass General Hospital’s energy conservation program which obtained a 40% reduction compared to a 2008 baseline. “We have had great success with these energy initiatives,” he says.
Additional recent energy–saving initiatives at the Mass General Hospital include:
- The replacement/retrofit of 3,000 lighting fixtures across the main campus to reduce C02 emissions by 283 metric tons–equivalent to avoiding 701,777 miles driven by a passenger car
- Several optimization projects at Charlestown Navy Yard–including heat pumps and chiller plant work–which are expected to reduce C02 emissions by 848 metric tons and 1.2 million kWh of energy savings
- The purchase of a sixth hybrid police cruiser
“We are a real leader in this space, and we plan to continue to do all we can,” Villanueva says. “It is our responsibility to fight climate change and we are looking forward to introducing future projects.”
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