MILWAUKEE — Advocate Aurora Health has announced its intention to power its 500-plus sites, including 27 hospitals, using only renewable electricity by the year 2030.
“Clean power produces clean air, and clean air helps save lives,” Bill Santulli, chief operations officer of Advocate Aurora Health, said in a statement. “This commitment builds upon our strong track record of leadership in sustainability and environmental stewardship.”
This commitment reportedly includes additional planning and energy considerations during the construction of new facilities — like the 96-acre hospital and $13-million medical center planned for Mount Pleasant, not to mention Aurora Medical Hospital already in Burlington.
All of Advocate Aurora’s current health care sites are located either in Wisconsin or northern Illinois. A press release issued Wednesday said that it is the first health system in Illinois to “publicly announce such a goal.”
Based in La Crosse, the Gundersen Health System has been working toward creating the first fully energy-independent hospitals in the U.S. for a decade. Minnesota Public Radio reported in 2015 that, between 2008 and 2014, Gundersen’s energy bill dropped from $5.3 million down to $5.1 million while the system’s cumulative square footage grew by 26 percent.
If successful, having Advocate Aurora go 100-percent renewable will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 392,657 metric tons per year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator. That’s approximately equal to removing 84,000 cars from the road.
“As the 10th largest not-for-profit integrated health system in the country, it’s imperative that we help lead the way toward a healthy environment that can support healthy people. Transitioning to clean energy reduces air pollution that is responsible for many chronic health conditions and mitigates the health impacts of climate change,” Mary Larsen, director of environmental affairs and sustainability, said.
“Accelerating our work to make good on this pledge is just another way we will support the health and wellness of the patients and communities we are privileged to serve.”
Not only helping the environment, Advocate Aurora said that using more renewable electricity will help people with asthma and other chronic conditions be able to breathe better, as a result of reduced waste in the air.
Update: This story has been edited to clarify Advocate Aurora’s commitment to being reliant on renewable electricity by 2030, not renewable energy.