Energizing New York’s Hospitals

Crain’s Health Pulse
Energizing New York’s Hospitals
July 17, 2013

Featuring: Jeffrey Kraut, senior vice president of strategy and business informatics.

Energizing New York's Hospitals

Alternate sources of energy might seem like a good fit for hospitals, given the power outages suffered during Sandy. But at last month's meeting of the Public Health and Health Planning Council's ad hoc advisory committee on environmental and construction standards, experts said there is literally no place for solar roof arrays at New York City hospitals. Representatives of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency, a post-Sandy task force, explained that solar power simply is not practical. Roof space in the city is usually too small for solar arrays large enough to power a big building, and rooftops tend to be already occupied by mechanical equipment.

Cogeneration plants work best for hospitals. Montefiore's plant enabled the hospital to ride out the storm, and previously got it through the 2003 blackout. Montefiore uses self-generated power with Con Edison as a backup.

The cogeneration plants also need flood protection, according to a June 4 report from Columbia University's Earth Institute, "Improving Energy Resilience of Buildings in New York City." Locating the machinery on roofs is one possibility, but that "could more than double the cost of the system," the report said. It suggests using mobile solar systems in a limited way.

Drawing on his experience with his employer, North Shore-LIJ, committee member Jeffrey Kraut said the hospital system's strategy is to embrace traditional energy sources. Since the "weapons of mass destruction" scare in 2000, he said, North Shore-LIJ has stockpiled emergency generators. "We just flat-bed them out when they are needed," he told the PHHPC committee.

The hospital system also has two oil tankers filled and ready. Mr. Kraut said, "We have bought gas stations" so employees can get to work if other stations are closed, adding "it's good business practice" to be fully prepared for a disaster.

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