Sarasota Memorial Harnesses Florida’s Sunshine

Apr/18/2012

Solar panels latest energy saving project in health system’s ongoing effort to promote an environmentally friendly and green workplace

SunshineSARASOTA, Fla. (April 17, 2012) – Just in time for Earth Day, Sarasota Memorial Hospital will complete the installation this week of 40 solar panels atop the main campus’ Waldemere Tower.

The roughly 1,300 square-foot solar array is a pilot project designed to produce on average 1,000,000 BTUs of heated water per day to supplement the hospital’s air conditioning and heating systems’ boilers.

The cost of the entire project is $226,000 with an estimated 7- to 10-year payback, in addition to a $36,000 rebate from Florida Power & Light. Although it’s a relatively small job compared to the $250 million Courtyard Tower and campus improvements under way, it’s a big step in the hospital’s ongoing effort to promote an environmentally friendly and green workplace.

"We live in the Sunshine State – it’s just the right thing to do,” said Jim Bugyis, Operation of Plant Director at Sarasota Memorial. “If we can keep finding ways to capture the power of the sun, use less electricity and reduce our carbon footprint, it all adds up.”

The solar panels were purchased from Enerworks Solar Heating and Cooling. The design, engineering and installation were all provided by local companies. Each panel is secured with steel I-beams and engineered to withstand the same hurricane force winds as the main hospital.

The flat white rooftop of the Waldemere Tower has the potential to reflect up to 60 percent of the sun’s energy, reducing the heat load on the building. If the solar panel project demonstrates a reasonable gain in BTUs, the health system will consider expanding the pilot across its regional network of facilities and medical campuses.

“It’s not new technology,” Bugyis pointed out. “People have been using solar power to heat their pools, houses and other machinery for years. We’re just learning the best way to apply it in the hospital and make it financially feasible.”

In the past two years, other SMH green team initiatives include:

-- Installing Dyson Airblade hand dryers in first floor public restrooms, reducing waste from paper towels and its carbon footprint (70% less carbon than paper towels).

-- Implementing a reusable sharps service, reducing our carbon footprint by 26,000 pounds of CO2 through the diversion of 43,835 pounds of plastic and 4,000 pounds of cardboard from our waste stream in 2009. In addition, our supplies reprocessing program has saved 3,680 pounds and $242,825.

-- Replacing more than 10,000 bulbs with energy-efficient lighting (old bulbs are recycled).

-- Recycling more than 278 tons of waste and more than 600 gallons of motor oil annually.

-- Participating in a yard waste/construction debris recycling program.

-- Adopting roads to clean up.

-- Using cafeteria flatware and to-go containers made from biodegradable “envirofoam.”

-- Participating in a used electronic equipment recycling program.

-- Planting Florida-friendly landscaping and using reclaimed water for irrigation.

-- Using environmentally friendly pest control methods.

-- Saving nearly 100,000 gallons of water daily by using reclaimed water in our energy plant.

-- Upgrading exterior lighting to LED lights, which use less electricity and last longer.

-- Creating a bicycle friendly environment for staff and community members. SMH was recognized in 2011 for being among 55 new Bicycle Friendly Businesses receiving awards at this year’s National Bike Summit, hosted each year by the League of American Bicyclists. And this year, the hospital gained national attention for its public safety bike patrol.

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EARTH DAY 2012 – SMH Community Event
What: Join SMH’s Green Team in celebrating Earth Day by recycling your old cell phones! SMH is teaming up with Stericycle, a medical waste disposal services company, to promote sustainability. Staff, patients and visitors are invited to bring in their personal cell phones and drop them off in exchange for a prize (limit 1 prize per person, but bring in as many old phones as you wish).

When: 8-9:30 am and 11 am-2 pm Monday, April 23.

Where: Windows Cafeteria (4th floor near B-elevators), Sarasota Memorial Hospital, 1700 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota.

Information: SMH also will showcase its new integrated waste stream management program to promote sustainability by introducing “single stream” recycling for recyclable items and providing reusable containers for other waste. The program not only diverts waste from the landfill, but also is expected to save the hospital $30,000 or more per year.

Media Contact: Kim Savage
(941) 893-7649 or kim-savage@smh.com

About Sarasota Memorial:
Sarasota Memorial Health Care System is a regional referral center offering Southwest Florida’s greatest breadth and depth of inpatient, outpatient and extended care services, with more than 800,000 patient visits a year. Sarasota Memorial’s 806-bed acute care hospital has been recognized repeatedly as one of the nation’s largest, safest and best, with superior patient outcomes and a complete continuum of outpatient services– from urgent care centers and physician groups, laboratory and diagnostic imaging centers, to home health and skilled nursing & rehabilitation. For information, visit: www.smh.com.

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