Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center Is Focusing on Community Health through PEER Certification

PEER certification

In 2020, a record number of billion-dollar disasters struck the U.S., damaging aging power infrastructure across the country. In 2021, extreme weather events continued to wreak havoc on the nation’s grids, from the Texas snowstorms that knocked out power for more than 4 million people, to Hurricane Ida’s sweep through Louisiana that left millions in the dark.

This rise in climate-related extreme weather events is particularly alarming for health-care providers, where a functioning facility can mean the difference between life and death for patients. A power outage or interruption affecting an intensive care unit, surgical theater, procedure room, vaccine storage area, electronically locked drug-dispensing unit or long-term care facility can do more than disrupt care and workflows; it can cause harm and cost lives.

In Hershey, Pa., Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center isn’t taking chances. For years, the medical center has thoughtfully integrated resilient and sustainably focused features into its campus to prepare for the unexpected. Through a U.S. Department of Energy grant run through the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Hershey Medical Center achieved PEER Platinum certification for its efforts to boost power reliability and sustainability and seek new pathways for improvement.

PEER Certification for Resilient Power Infrastructure
PEER certification is administered by Green Business Certification Inc., which also administers LEED, a worldwide green building rating system. Modeled after LEED, PEER is the first rating system that measures and improves power system performance and electricity infrastructure. PEER encourages the adoption of reliable, resilient and sustainable practices and helps power providers solve aging infrastructure, find cost savings, share best practices, build for resiliency, and enhance tracking to identify deficiencies and prevent failures.

Across the world, PEER-certified projects currently provide reliable power to 7.9 million people, mitigate 21 million metric tons of CO2 emissions and have saved $62 million in maintenance costs per year— numbers that continue to increase with each new project.

These projects range across all types of infrastructure—from campuses and utilities to transportation systems. PEER-certified projects include rural cooperatives, city-owned utilities, airports, microgrids, universities and health-care campuses, like Hershey Medical Center.

Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center
The PEER Platinum-certified Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center is a teaching and research hospital, serving central Pennsylvania. It’s the region’s only academic medical center and the only medical facility in Pennsylvania to be accredited as a Level 1 trauma center for children and adults. The medical center houses 610 beds and annually admits 29,000 patients, receives 73,000 emergency room patients and performs 33,000 surgical procedures.

With this much activity, the Hershey team has long acknowledged that energy efficiency and resilience are pivotal not only for the center’s success, but also for its impact on the local community’s power grid. That’s why there are multiple LEED-certified buildings across the 4.6-million-square-foot campus operating off of its PEER-certified energy system. The center’s work has made it a finalist for the 2022 Greater Good Award for a Pennsylvania Microgrid, which celebrates “microgrids that fulfill a clear societal need and show how microgrids improve the human condition.”

“We are committed to a holistic framework that addresses the efficiency and effectiveness of our electrical system,” notes Marvin W. Smith, P.E., CHFM assistant vice president, Facilities. “Through PEER certification, we demonstrate dedication to reliability, resiliency and the environment.”

The campus features a 7.5-megawatt combustion turbine, which generates 50 percent of the campus annual electrical power and gives the campus the ability to island part of the facility from the grid in the case of a major outage. The cogeneration plant, also known as combined heat and power, produces multiple sources of energy from the same system, rather than letting extra energy go to waste. It can be 50 to 70 percent more efficient than a typical power source. This system can produce approximately 7.9 MW of electricity onsite, and the accompanying chilled-water system and steam system satisfy around 80 percent of the cooling and heating load requirements of the campus.

About the Author

Sumner Byrne, LEED Green Associate
Sumner Byrne, LEED Green Associate, is senior manager of digital marketing at the U.S. Green Building Council and Green Business Certification Inc. She devotes her time to articulating the impacts and importance of green building and business certifications on their communities’ health, environment and economies.

Be the first to comment on "Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center Is Focusing on Community Health through PEER Certification"

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: