GBA Releases 2016 Edition of Hospital Energy + Water Survey

GBA News

Grumman/Butkus Associates has released the latest edition of its annual Hospital Energy and Water Benchmarking Survey, focusing on usage and costs for fossil fuels, electricity, and water/sewer.

The survey also tracks hospitals’ carbon footprint and energy costs per bed, all based on data submitted by participating facilties nationwide. The 2016 Edition provides information on usage trends and costs for calendar year 2015, based on data from 137 participant facilities.

Since the survey was initiated more than 20 years ago, hospitals’ overall fossil fuel use has trended downward, but electricity use isn’t declining much. Average Btu/ft2, including both gas/steam and electricity, was 237,998 in this year’s survey, compared with 232,981 in last year’s edition. Average ft2 costs for energy were $3.11 in this year’s survey, down a bit from the prior year. 

Carbon footprint results have stayed fairly steady over time, at about 60 pounds of CO2 equivalent per ft2 per year. “If we are going to address the very daunting issue of climate change, the healthcare industry must make greater strides in reducing its carbon footprint,” says G/BA Chairman Dan Doyle. “As the trend data show, not enough progress is being made thus far.”

Reporting facilities displayed a broad range of usage patterns. For instance, a few participants are using more than 200,000 BTU/ft2 in fossil fuel annually, compared with a general mid range of facilities (about 130,000 BTU/ft2/year) and those that used least (75,000 BTU/ft2/year). Similarly, a few hospitals consume more than 40 kWh/ft2/year in electricity, compared with a mid-range of about 25 kWh/ft2/year. A few squeaked by with less than 18 kWh/ft2. The wide differences in usage mean that some participants are paying well over $3/ft2/year for electrical energy, while most are getting by at less than $2.50 and a few at less than $1.50.

“Facilities that have high unit costs for energy should view this as an opportunity,” says Doyle. “For example, an energy-improvement project that would have a five-year payback at an ‘average’ facility may have a payback of just 2.5 or 3 years at a facility with higher unit costs for energy.”

Hospital water use is also gradually declining, currently averaging about 45 gallons per ft2 per year (compared with more than 60 gallons/ft2/year a decade ago). Costs per gallon are rising, however, now averaging $0.39/ft2. As recently as 2007, hospitals were paying just $0.27/ft2. Water/sewer utility prices ($/kgal) paid by survey participants are up about $1/kgal in the past year alone, and have more than doubled since 2006.

“G/BA expects the trend of rising water and sewer costs to continue,” says Doyle. “Price hikes not only reflect increasing costs to extract and treat the water, but also the fact that cash-strapped governmental entitites may view water as a revenue source.”

Among the survey participants, a few hospitals are using more than 70 gallons/ft2/year, compared with some that use less than 3 gallons/ft2/year.

Differences in energy or water use among similarly sized facilities may be influenced by operating strategies. For instance, facilities that purchase steam and/or chilled water from a third party may have higher costs for both energy and water, reflecting the inclusion of labor and capital recovery in addition to raw fuel costs. (Building systems and operational choices that influence costs and usage are pointed out in G/BA’s data charts.)

The G/BA survey has provided a free annual benchmarking resource since its initial release in 1995. Hospitals are invited to participate without charge by submitting responses to a short list of questions. Information for this edition was provided by 137 hospitals located in Illinois (56), Wisconsin (31), Michigan (29), Indiana (10), and six other states.

Full results and analysis, as well as information about participating in the 2017 survey (2016 data), are available at the firm’s website. For additional information, contact Doyle ( or Julie Higginbotham (

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