GreenBiz: Hospital combines with brewery to “energize health care”

LA CROSSE – It might seem like a stretch to combine beer and health care in one idea, but City Brewery and Gundersen Lutheran Health System have accomplished just that with a unique renewable energy partnership.

The two companies have combined efforts to generate 8 to 10 percent of the electricity used on Gundersen Lutheran’s campuses in La Crosse and Onalaska by using waste biogas from the brewing process.

The project launched Oct. 7 and has been operating effectively. It is projected to generate about 3 million kilowatt hours per year. As Corey Zarecki, the project engineer and efficiency improvement leader for Gundersen Lutheran, puts it, that’s the environmental impact equivalent of planting 490 acres of forest or removing 395 cars from the road. It is enough electricity to power about 300 homes.

“One reason we have done this is to cut energy costs and move toward our goal of being energy independent by 2014,” Zarecki said. “But, we also feel it is healthy for the community, the right thing for our patients and fits in with being good stewards of the environment.

“You’ve seen the emphasis in the country on the economy, health and energy. We feel this project and our overall goal includes all three.”

Read more in a new GreenBiz column by Gregg Hoffmann:

Hospital combines with brewery to “energize health care”