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Dane County Office of Energy & Climate Change

Energizing Care: UW Health’s Climate Leadership

A celebration of UW Health's Eastpark solar canopy

By: Isabella Lubotsky

UW Health is recognized as one of the most progressive and prominent medical centers in the country. Patient safety and comfort are top priorities, right alongside a strong commitment to reducing the organization's carbon footprint. A recent milestone in the latter effort is the Eastpark Solar Canopy, recognized by RENEW Wisconsin as the largest of its kind in the state.

Located atop a parking structure near UW Health's hospital on Madison's east side, the Eastpark solar array exemplifies the organization's dedication to enhancing patient care and community well-being. This initiative not only marks a significant step towards sustainability but also supports UW Health's broader mission of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and portfolio-wide energy intensity by 50% and 34% respectively. 

Key Features of the Eastpark Solar Canopy:

  • Comprising 2,000 panels generating 1,260 megawatt hours annually, equivalent to planting over 1,000 acres of trees each year.
  • Supplied by Sunpeak and Staff Electric, the installation will support powering UW Health's upcoming proton therapy center
  • Electric vehicle charging will be present on every floor of the parking structure 
  • Scheduled to begin operations in October, the canopy will additionally protect the top floor from the elements, improving patient comfort and care.

Overcoming Challenges: Implementing renewable energy projects in healthcare can be tricky, because competing priorities like new medical equipment often take precedence. Despite these challenges, the Eastpark Solar Canopy underscores UW Health's commitment to leveraging indirect benefits for patient experience and broader community environmental impact.

Broader Sustainability Initiatives: UW Health has been recognized as Climate Champions for building energy use at several locations, including the American Center, Union Corners clinic, and Madison East Hospital.  UW Health also participates in initiatives such as the US Department of Energy’s Building Better Challenge and Better Climate Challenge, facilitating peer collaboration and addressing industry-specific environmental issues. 

In addition to prioritizing solar installations, UW Health is proactive on other sustainability fronts such as:

  • Waste Reduction: Efforts include reprocessing gas waste in operating rooms and minimizing medical waste;
  • Food Sustainability: As signatories of the Cool Food Pledge, UW Health prioritizes reducing greenhouse gas emissions by sourcing locally and promoting plant-based diets, supporting local economies and achieving recognition for excellence in food sustainability.
  • Fleet Electrification: Planned expansion of their EV fleet to include additional vehicles along with more charging infrastructure.further with more vehicles and charging infrastructure. 
  • Certifications: As part of UW Health's dedication to sustainability, they also pursue voluntary certifications like those from the Joint Commission, reinforcing their commitment to environmental stewardship and continuous improvement. 

The Eastpark Solar Canopy is a testament to UW Health's leadership in healthcare sustainability, driving positive change for patients, staff, and the environment.

We appreciate UW Health’s commitment to sustainability and appreciate their leadership within the healthcare sector for Dane County.