The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has launched the EnergySmart Hospitals initiative to increase the use of energy-efficient technologies in hospitals across the United States.

The nation’s 8,000 hospitals are among the most energy-intensive commercial buildings, and the EnergySmart Hospitals initiative will target 20 percent improved efficiency in existing hospital facilities and 30 percent improvement over current standards in new construction. The initiative has the potential to help hospitals identify opportunities to not only save millions in potential energy costs, but also reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Hospitals last year spent more than $5 billion on energy costs with more than 2.5 times the energy intensity and carbon dioxide emissions of commercial office buildings. Unlike many commercial buildings, hospitals must remain fully operational 24 hours a day, seven days a week and provide services during power outages, natural disasters, and other events that force other facilities to close.

The EnergySmart Hospitals initiative, unveiled at the annual meeting of the American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE), will provide the tools, resources, case studies and design strategies to support hospitals in meeting the challenge of increasing energy efficiency while delivering quality patient care, operating cost effectively, and maintaining healthy healing and work environments. Tools and resources will include advanced energy design guides for small and large hospitals, technology assessments, and an interactive Web site. The initiative also will make available a series of training sessions, initially targeting hospitals in five metropolitan areas.

Learn more about EnergySmart Hospitals at the DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Web site.