June 17th, 2004

Great River Medical Center recently was recognized as the country’s most energy-efficient hospital in an energy study conducted by Grumman/Butkus Associates. This is the third consecutive year Great River Medical Center has received this distinction. More than 100 hospitals from across the country were included in the study.

Grumman/Butkus Associates is a professional consulting firm of design engineers and energy consultants with offices in Evanston, Ill., Wauwatosa, Wis., and Madison, Wis. The firm provides mechanical and electrical consulting services primarily to commercial, educational, governmental, health-care, hotel, industrial and telecommunication clients.

The average utility cost per square foot for all of the hospitals in the study was $2.31. Great River Medical Center’s cost per square foot was $0.81, which is 65 percent less than the average for all other hospitals in the study.

Great River Medical Center is powered by the world’s largest lake-coupled geothermal heating and cooling system. Instead of burning fuel, the geothermal system transfers heat from one source to another. Variable-speed 150-horsepower pumps push water through a closed-loop piping system that extends from the hospital campus buildings to the bottom of a 12-acre manmade lake. The 105 miles of closed pipes are filled with city water and an antibacterial additive. To heat the buildings, the heat pump draws heat from the lake and transfers it to the buildings. To cool the buildings, the heat pump draws heat from the buildings and then transfers it to the lake.

In 2001, the geothermal system’s efficiency was enhanced by the addition of 180 wells on the north side of the lake. Each well is approximately 300 feet deep. “Our goal when we opened Great River Medical Center in April 2000 was to be the most energy-efficient hospital in the country, and it didn’t take us long to achieve this,” said John Mercer, director of Facilities. “Although the geothermal system and the new building play a big part in this success, hospital employees also have had an influence through energy-saving practices, such as remembering to turn off lights when leaving unoccupied rooms, turning off unused equipment and adjusting office thermostats when leaving work for the day. By remembering to do these little things, our employees have helped us realize tremendous energy savings.”