Lurie Children’s Kicks Off Earth Day by Taking Major Steps to Lower Carbon Footprint
Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago is kicking off Earth Day by taking major steps to lower its carbon footprint associated with energy use. The hospital purchased 51,000 renewable energy certificates (RECs) in 2018 and has committed to buying the same amount in 2019. This volume of RECs is equivalent to 100% of the organization’s annual electricity use. RECs are issued when electricity is generated from renewable energy sources.
“This decision to purchase RECs reflects Lurie Children’s sustainability leadership and demonstrates its continued commitment to be a good steward,” said Eric Hoffman, Senior Director, Facilities Services at Lurie Children’s. “The funds from these RECs – which will directly go to support renewable energy projects, such as wind and solar – help to reduce regional and national dependence on fossil fuels.”
In 2017, Lurie Children’s spent $4.36 million on electricity for the entire medical center, which includes the main 23-story hospital in downtown Chicago, Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute, as well as outpatient clinics in Lincoln Park and the suburbs (20 total). The purchase of RECs will add about 1% to Lurie Children’s annual cost of electricity, or an additional $48,000 per year for 2018 and 2019.
“The hospital’s purchase of 51,000 RECs will have environmental impact similar to taking more than 7,500 cars off the road for a year,” said Hoffman. “Research also shows there is a health benefit to reducing carbon dioxide emission and the impact it can have on the prevalence of childhood asthma.”
In 2014, the U.S. Green Building Council designated Lurie Children’s 23-story hospital in Streeterville with the second highest sustainability rating, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification. The LEED green building program is the preeminent program for the design, construction, maintenance and operations of high-performance green buildings. Since then, Lurie Children’s has made significant progress improving energy efficiency and managing energy cost at its many facilities.
What are Renewable Energy Certificates?
- Definition of Renewable Energy Certificate (from U.S. EPA): “A renewable energy certificate, or REC, is a market-based instrument that represents the property rights to the environmental, social and other non-power attributes of renewable electricity generation. RECs are issued when one megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity is generated and delivered to the electricity grid from a renewable energy resource.”
- How RECs work (from U.S. EPA): “Because the physical electricity we receive through the utility grid says nothing of its origin or how it was generated, RECs play an important role in accounting, tracking, and assigning ownership to renewable electricity generation and use. On a shared grid, whether from on-site or off-site resources, RECs are the instrument that electricity consumers must use to substantiate renewable electricity use claims.”