UCI Health is building a $1.3 billion medical campus in Irvine, which will include an all-electric 144-bed hospital, an emergency department, an outpatient center for advanced care, a center for children’s health, and the Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center and Ambulatory Care building. The advanced care center is scheduled to be the first of the campus buildings to open next spring.
According to the university, the UC Irvine medical center is likely to be the first all-electric medical center in the U.S. The medical complex will be powered by an Essential Utilities plant that does not rely on carbon combustion or natural gas. Although backup diesel generators will be available, the hospital aims to operate completely under electric power.
Joe Brothman, facilities and general services director for UCI Health stresses that hospitals are generally heavy contributors to greenhouse gasses. “Our operations are very energy-intensive,” he said “Operating rooms and medical facilities themselves, due to their regulatory requirements, are usually operating 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They use a lot of energy and resources."
“We are an industry in the business of healing people,” he added. “If our operations are contributing to negative health externalities, especially... in underserved populations that have historically had negative health effects because of energy, we’re not fulfilling our mission.”
UCI Health plans to procure 100% sustainably produced electricity and incorporate a range of technologies, such as producing chilled and hot water, steam for humidification and cleaning, and small steam boilers at each point of use. UCI Health is also looking for opportunities to electrify its existing buildings at other sites such as the nearby Orange campus.
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