The Power of Energy Resilience

By Jonelle Todd
Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Planning ahead for power outages can enhance patient safety and operational efficiency while reducing energy costs.

For healthcare facilities, energy resilience — the ability to withstand a loss of grid power — can literally be a matter of life and death. Even so, the cost of purchasing the physical energy assets that preserve patient safety and protect critical functions during a catastrophic power interruption can be difficult for cash-strapped healthcare facilities to justify.

However, making the necessary investment in on-site power generation equipment a business priority offers many benefits, including protecting patient safety, preventing the loss of revenue in the event of disaster, and reducing the cost of procuring power from public utilities during periods of peak demand.

Utilization of a business-planning model can provide facility managers with a compelling case for financial investment in equipment that provides greater energy resilience. Building a business case in support of energy resilience investment begins with the development of an energy committee made up of leaders in facility, finance and supply chain management.

The energy committee’s first order of business is typically to conduct a needs assessment outlining current and future energy load requirements and cataloging high-energy-use equipment, such as water heating, space heating and cooling, refrigeration, steam distribution, and major air handling units. When the needs assessment is complete, the committee should identify the most cost-efficient equipment that fits with on-campus energy resilience requirements. These may include backup generators, combined heat and power (cogeneration) technologies, and/or alternative energy sources, such as wind, solar or geothermal.