Gundersen Lutheran Health System teams with brewery on unique 'green' endeavor
La Crosse, Wis. October 7, 2009 /PRNewswire/ — "Brewery" and "healthcare" aren't two words that typically go together. But, in La Crosse, Wis., a major healthcare organization and the local brewer created a unique partnership that's saving money for patients, and protecting the community's natural resources.
On Oct. 7, Gundersen Lutheran Health System and City Brewery began generating energy through a combined heat and power project. Gundersen Lutheran installed an engine at City Brewery that uses methane gas discharged from the brewery's waste treatment process—which was previously flared or released into the atmosphere—and turns it into electricity.
As Jeff Rich, Gundersen Lutheran executive director of Efficiency Improvement, explains, "The electricity doesn't go directly to Gundersen Lutheran. It is sent to the power grid where it can be consumed by local power customers. The local utility pays us for this electricity production to offset the costs of our energy consumption. That savings can be passed along to patients."
"This project allows us to use the waste created in the brewing process in a positive way and preserve other valuable natural resources. Most importantly, we will be more environmentally sound, and help lower the cost of healthcare by decreasing this expense in our system," says Jeff Thompson, MD, Gundersen Lutheran CEO.
The combined heat and power project is expected to generate three million kilowatt (kW) hours yearly, offsetting about 8 percent of the electricity used on Gundersen Lutheran's two largest campuses. As an added benefit, heat generated from the engine will be captured and recycled back to produce heat for the waste treatment process at City Brewery.
The combined heat and power project is one piece of Gundersen Lutheran's aggressive plan to lower energy costs and lead the healthcare industry in environmental stewardship. For more information, go to gundluth.org/green.
About Gundersen Lutheran
Headquartered in La Crosse, Wis., Gundersen Lutheran Health System has hospitals and clinics throughout western Wisconsin, southeastern Minnesota and northeastern Iowa providing emergency, specialty and primary care services. As one of the nation's largest multi-specialty group medical practices, Gundersen Lutheran is comprised of nearly 700 medical, dental and associate staff, and supported by a staff of more than 6,000. The Health System has been consistently ranked in the upper 5% of hospitals in the country. To find the latest news releases, go to gundluth.org/news.