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Gundersen’s Sparta Clinic receives national praise for energy efficiency

SPARTA, Wis. (WXOW) — Gundersen’s Sparta Clinic is one of the only energy-independent medical buildings in Wisconsin.

The U.S. Department of Energy has recognized the clinic for exceeding expectations in energy efficiency.

“I’m here to tell you that while this is a shining example in your community, it’s also a shining example for the rest of the country,” said Maria Vargas, Better Building Initiative Director for the Department of Energy.

The clinic includes a geothermal pump system that uses 40 underground wells 300 feet deep to provide the heating and cooling. Sparta Health Clinic does not require any natural gas or fossil fuels.

“That distributed system keeps it right where it is, so we’re spending less energy and moving that air around,” said Alan Eber, Director of Facility Operations at Gundersen Health System-Sparta Clinic.

Sparta Clinic also installed a spray-foam insulation, LED lighting, and occupancy sensors to reduce energy when space is not in use.

One of the biggest tools that Gundersen’s Sparta Clinic uses to stay energy independent is a rooftop full of solar panels. The rooftop panels can generate up to 100 kilowatts of energy. These panels can’t power the full building, so the clinic partnered with Xcel Energy’s Community Solar Garden to generate an extra 280 kilowatts. This helps offset the cost of the energy they plan to use.

“We do have a cost crisis in the United States, and this is a way that we can lower that burden, by using less energy and lowering the expenses of the organizations,” said Eber.

By using less fossil fuels as an energy resource, the amount of emissions and pollution has dropped drastically, creating a healthier community. The Department of Energy plans to use the Sparta Clinic as an example of how to create a sustainable building.

“We are really hoping to take the message out and share it around the country about what’s happening here in Gundersen and what’s happening here in Sparta,” said Vargas.

Since it’s opening in 2017, Sparta Health Clinic has surpassed its energy saving goal by 9% which resulted in energy savings of more than 68 thousand dollars. Gundersen Health plans to implement these energy saving tools in other parts of their system like in Tomah and Winona. Since 2008, Gundersen Health System has saved 11 million dollars since making energy efficient upgrades.

Mike Beiermeister

WXOW Weekend Anchor and Reporter

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