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St. Mark's Medical Center Wins the ENERGY STAR National Building Competition

La Grange, Texas (March 12, 2012) — St. Mark’s Medical Center has been named the winner of hospital category in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2011 ENERGY STAR National Building Competition, “Battle of the Buildings,” which helps improve the energy efficiency of commercial buildings that account for nearly 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions and energy use in the United States. According to ENERGY STAR measurements, St. Mark’s reduced its source energy consumption by 22.7 percent during the competition period. The total site energy use was reduced by 34 percent in the first full year after implementation.


“We are excited that we were able to go above and beyond our goals in increasing our energy efficiency,” said Nathan Staggs, chief executive officer, St. Mark’s Medical Center. “I am proud of my team and I know we will continue to strive to improve our energy conservation every day.”


The 2011 ENERGY STAR National Building Competition included 245 teams in 33 states and the District of Columbia, representing 26 different types of commercial buildings including retail stores, schools, offices, hotels, museums and healthcare facilities.


Before the competition St. Mark’s already had realized significant energy savings after contracting with Ridgecrest Energy Advisors of Houston to conduct a thorough analysis of the facility’s systems last year. The process identified and implemented ways to increase efficiencies within the major mechanical systems at the hospital short of making capital investments.


This competition has shown the hospital staff a new way to focus on energy efficiency in a more comprehensive and measurement-driven way. It has made it easier for the operations staff to understand all the ways their facility uses energy and how their actions make an impact. Another improvement for St. Mark’s is more accurate energy consumption forecasts for budgeting and procurement.


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has praised St. Mark’s efforts in the competition. EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said, “All of the ENERGY STAR National Building Competition participants are seizing the opportunities energy efficiency presents to cut pollution and save money. Increasing energy efficiency is a key strategy for securing our nation's energy future.”


Built in 2005, St. Mark’s is a relatively new facility, which just goes to show there’s room to improve energy performance regardless of a building’s age, size or geographic location. “I have to credit the hospital — a lot of people with buildings as new as theirs don’t think there are opportunities to save on energy consumption and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Ben Whitsett, senior vice president, Ridgecrest Energy Advisors.


Among the contenders were 11 buildings that are at least 100 years old. The smallest building is just over 6,000 square feet, while 15 buildings cover more than 1 million square feet of floor space each, with the largest totaling nearly 3 million square feet.


Squat school buildings faced off against towering skyscrapers. “Buildings of all shapes and sizes are saving money and energy with help from EPA and ENERGY STAR,” said Jean Lupinacci, Director of EPA’s ENERGY STAR Commercial Buildings Program. “We applaud the contestants of EPA’s ENERGY STAR National Building Competition for taking action to protect the environment and save energy in the buildings where we work, play and learn.”


Commercial buildings account for nearly 20 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and energy use at a cost of more than $100 billion per year, according to the EPA. On average, 30 percent of the energy used in commercial buildings is wasted.


St. Mark’s energy-saving initiatives so far have included optimizing existing building controls and adding a computerized dashboard, or “control center,” so building conditions and energy usage can be monitored and adjusted from one central location. Additional efforts focused on cultural practices and worker behavior (turning off lights, shutting down equipment, setting computers to power down to “sleep” mode when idle) to further reduce energy consumption and waste.


St. Mark’s has recently been announced an ENERGY STAR hospital. This is a rare honor for Texas hospitals, currently there is only one other hospital in the state with this 2012 designation and just seven total in 2011. As of the December 2011 savings period, St. Mark’s has saved a 29 percent cost reduction and 34 percent reduction in energy consumption.


About St. Mark’s Medical Center – La Grange, TX  

St. Mark’s Medical Center is a not-for-profit community hospital serving the needs of patients in the central Texas communities of Fayette and Lee Counties. St. Mark’s Medical Center provides an array of comprehensive healthcare services that range widely from surgical services, a birthing center and specialist care to cardiac rehabilitation, emergency medicine and general acute care services. St. Mark’s also offers state of the art imaging and certified laboratory services.

CHC in the Spotlight