Three healthcare organizations, Health Care Without Harm, Practice Greenhealth and Global Health and Safety Initiative, submitted a proposal to Congress and the Administration calling for $2 billion to be directed through the Economic Stimulus Package for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects for the nation’s hospitals and health care facilities, according to a recent press release. The Renewable Energy and Green Healthcare Jobs Initiative could create more than 57,000 new jobs, 26,800 of which will be new clean energy jobs.

“This initiative is a tremendous opportunity to create green jobs, reduce healthcare costs, and invest in the health of our communities and our environment,” stated Gary Cohen, co-executive director of Health Care Without Harm. “It builds on the work already underway by the health community to reduce its environmental footprint, and through this effort we can galvanize the enormous purchasing power of hospitals to drive the economy toward renewable energy sources.”

Health care has the second most energy intensive buildings per square foot in the country. Under the Initiative, enough new clean electric generating capacity would be installed in hospitals and other health facilities to eliminate the need for 4,000 barrels of oil per day and to prevent more than 890,000 tons of carbon emissions annually, according to the release. Pollutants from non-renewable energy generation are associated with a wide range of environmental and health issues, including chronic health problems such as asthma, bronchitis and other lung conditions. Reducing the consumption of energy in these facilities would result in a savings of more than $10 million in direct annual medical costs and over $87 million in annual secondary costs through the prevention of illness and disease associated with fossil fuel emissions, the release states.

The health sector leadership is working with the Senate to insert the initiative into the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. For more information about the Alternative Energy and Green Healthcare Jobs Initiative, visit www.practicegreenhealth.org/tools/hcee/initiative.