Building on the success of its first solar panel installment, CentraState Medical Center plans to take the next step this winter by expanding its solar energy production capabilities.
In 2015, the hospital installed a 7-megawatt ground-mounted solar panel “farm” on its campus that currently provides for 33 percent of the facility’s electricity demand. To further decrease its carbon footprint and increase self-sustainability, CentraState plans to install solar carports throughout its side and back parking lots beginning in February.
“As an organization, we’re being prudent about our impact on the environment and how we can lessen that impact,” explains Thomas W. Scott, MHA, FACHE, FABC, senior vice president and chief operating officer at CentraState. “We’re taking steps to replace traditional infrastructure with ‘greener’ options.”
Covered Carports Will Benefit Patients, Visitors, and Staff
In addition to boosting the medical center’s solar power generating capabilities to cover approximately 50 percent of its consumption, Scott says added benefits of the project include:
- Reducing the hospital’s drain on Freehold Township’s electrical grid, particularly in the summer, when brown-outs can occur
- Adding covered parking for patients, visitors, and employees, providing shade and protection from snow and rain
- Improving safety for employees and visitors through LED lights and digital security cameras installed under the carport canopies—an enhancement that is particularly important for night-shift employees
- Providing an additional anticipated cost savings of $200,000 a year, with the farm and carports together saving approximately $500,000 in costs each year
Thanks to its partnership with KDC Solar, a Bedminster-based developer, owner, and operator of solar power facilities, installation and solar equipment will be delivered at no cost to CentraState. Once the project is operational, the hospital will pay per kilowatt hour at a rate that’s lower than the public utility rate, says Scott. And, because solar power costs are fixed, the hospital’s 20-year energy contract ensures that future price volatility is substantially reduced.
The hospital is reinvesting the money it’s saving through the solar energy initiative into other green initiatives. Eco-friendly steps include replacing traditional lightbulbs with energy-efficient LED bulbs and upgrading the current heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system to a more efficient one, according to Scott.
“Enhancing the health and wellbeing of our community is CentraState’s mission, and this is another step forward in fulfilling that mission,” Scott explains.
Installation will coincide with a paving project in the affected lots. Work will be conducted in phases, ensuring that there will always be adequate parking on campus. The project is expected to be completed by September 2019.