Clean Air Month: Aspirus Health is committed to clean air initiatives
FOR THE WAUSAU TIMES
WAUSAU, Wis. – Our lungs need clean air to stay healthy. That’s why it’s important the air we breathe is free of pollution. Each May, the American Lung Association (ALA) celebrates Clean Air Month to educate people about the impact clean air can have on their lives.
Air pollution can result in rises in asthma attacks, heart attacks, hospitalizations for people with COPD, infant death, respiratory infections and strokes. The ALA reports it can also raise the risk for asthma, COPD, certain cancers, diabetes, dementia and fertility problems.
“At Aspirus Health, we recognize the impacts of poor air quality on our communities, patients and team members,” said Andrew Miller, Director of System Facilities Management and Security. “We are committed to reducing our carbon footprint by implementing sustainable programs and building improvement initiatives. These initiatives will improve air quality and overall health both now and into the future.”
Since rolling out its sustainability initiative in 2018, Aspirus Health introduced programs to reduce its carbon footprint to support community health and improve air and water quality. Aspirus also instituted efforts to conserve energy and to align with best practices in the health industry to be a community leader for socially responsible business operations.
One clean air initiative at Aspirus Health is to use clean, renewable solar energy. To date, Aspirus has installed 1.8 megawatts of solar electric panels across its locations. These solar panels use the sun to create electricity, which is used to help power the buildings where they are located.
Unlike natural gas and coal used for generating power, solar energy emits no pollution, produces no odors, releases no chemicals and uses no water. Solar is the cheapest and cleanest form of new energy generation at the power plant level.
The 1.8 megawatts of solar power at Aspirus Health provide an annual carbon reduction of 1,078 MtCo2 (Metric Tons of Carbon). This annual reduction is equivalent to:
The carbon emissions of 240 passenger vehicles annually,The energy used by 136 homes for one year, or 46,660 bags of waste recycled instead of landfilled.
Most recently, Aspirus installed solar panels on the roof of its Aspirus Wausau Clinic – N 3rd Street in downtown Wausau, which opened in November 2022.
Built with a commitment to sustainability, this clinic also features GREENGUARD-certified furniture and healthy interiors designed to ensure clean indoor air as well as geothermal heating and cooling, and outdoor elements such as permeable pavement and landscaping with native plants that help filter pollution from rain, stormwater runoff and melting snow.
Active solar panel arrays are also installed at Aspirus Health’s hospital, corporate campus, Cardiology Clinic and Family House in Wausau, Wis.; Aspirus Langlade Hospital (Antigo, Wis.); Aspirus Divine Savior Wellness Center (Portage, Wis.); Aspirus Medford Hospital (Medford, Wis.); and Aspirus Rhinelander Clinic – N Chippewa Drive (Rhinelander, Wis).
Another ongoing clean air initiative at Aspirus Health is the conversion to LED lighting across its hospitals in Wisconsin and Upper Michigan. LED lighting uses less energy than traditional lighting while also requiring fewer lights to achieve the same level of brightness. Less energy use translates to fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
Interior lighting is now fully converted to LED at all 17 of Aspirus Health’s hospitals.
Thirteen of these hospitals were converted to LED this fiscal year (July 1, 2022 – June 30, 2023). It is projected the conversion of these 13 hospitals to LED interior lighting will result in an annual energy savings of 5,329,608 kWh (Kilowatt Hours) and an annual carbon reduction of 3,777 MtCo2 (Metric Tons of Carbon). This annual carbon reduction is equivalent to:
The carbon emissions of 840 passenger vehicles annually,The energy used by 476 homes for one year, or 163,490 bags of waste recycled instead of landfilled.
Aspirus Health’s solar panel installations and LED conversion initiative will help the health system reach its goal of reducing its carbon footprint by 80 percent by 2030.
Help protect yourself from air pollution and its impacts by:
Knowing the daily air quality index of your area. Taking precautions when air quality is not safe for your health, including staying indoors, closing windows, using air filters and not smoking.
Not exercising next to busy roads to avoid contact with car exhaust. Eliminating bad air from inside your home by keeping it mold-free, cleaning often to avoid dust mites, using cleaning products with lower amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), ensuring fuel-burning appliances are vented properly, testing your home for radon, not smoking, avoiding secondhand smoke, and opening windows to bring in fresh air when outdoor air quality is safe.