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How Intermountain Healthcare’s Sustainability efforts are helping clean the air and reduce health costs

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Intermountain Healthcare is projected to save nearly $1 million by the end of 2020 thanks to LED lighting upgrades at all of their facilities – one of many sustainability steps the health system is taking to reduce its environmental footprint and make care more affordable for patients.

These savings come as Intermountain Healthcare, Utah’s largest health system, joins more than 100 community, civic, and business leaders as an inaugural signer of the Utah Climate and Clean Air Compact, which focuses on broad initiatives statewide to solve these problems.

The Utah Climate and Clean Air Compact encourage pioneering leadership and collaboration to find a practical climate and clean air solutions. It emphasizes a nonpartisan approach to solve a wide range of issues like health and wellbeing, the economy, and re-energizing rural communities.

“It’s incredible how small changes in efficiency can mean big steps towards a sustainable and resilient future,” said Glen Garrick, sustainability director for Intermountain Healthcare. “Every dollar we save on energy is money we can focus on the health of our patients.”

Three years ago, Intermountain Healthcare began upgrading interior and exterior lighting to LEDs which use considerably less electricity than regular light bulbs. Thanks to partnerships and grants from utilities like Rocky Mountain Power, Intermountain Healthcare was able to do more upgrades at all of its hospitals and facilities.

New projections show these upgrades will save more than $952,000 by the end of this year. When retrofits are finished in 2021 those energy savings will top $1 million annually, enough electricity savings alone to power more than 1,470 homes.

“We see the impacts of poor air quality on our patients firsthand and we know bold steps and a steady, long-term commitment will make a difference,” said Mikelle Moore, senior vice president, and chief community health officer for Intermountain Healthcare. “As both the largest employer and a major healthcare provider in the state, we have an opportunity to change our practices, influence others, and raise awareness. Together we can improve the health of our community.”

These lighting upgrades are just one of many sustainability projects Intermountain Healthcare is undertaking.

A key goal of Intermountain Healthcare’s sustainability efforts is to help improve air quality across the state because of its negative impact on the health of Utah residents.

The largest contributor to the state’s air quality problems comes from vehicle exhaust. To combat this, Intermountain is in the process of converting 80 percent of its fleet to hybrid and electric vehicles by 2025.

In addition, Intermountain Healthcare is exploring ways for some employees to work from home more often. In 2019, a work from home pilot program reduced caregiver driving miles by 3.2 million. That is expected to increase after the COVID-19 pandemic ends since more caregivers have adjusted workflows allowing them to work remotely.

“We’re fully committed to working with community partners to reach the goals set in the climate compact. We know from experience our communities can step up to these major challenges when we work together,” said Moore.

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