When fossil fuel emissions are displaced, the result is millions of dollars in public health benefits. This is the primary reason that energy efficiency measures and renewable energy choices offer such a boost for public health, according to a study by a team of researchers at Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health. So how can those of us in the health sector promote this message? We can encourage our institutions to produce or purchase renewable energy. Sometimes, it takes a little push to get things going, particularly because healthcare institutions aren't always small offices with handfuls of people. Healthcare facilities are often large and changing energy sources is can be a multi-step process. But renewables make a powerful case as a hospital energy source, particularly given the fact that they offer a preventative way to limit disease. As Jonathon Buonocore, research associate at Harvard’s Center for Health and the Global Environment states in the CleanTechnica article below, “This study demonstrates that energy efficiency and renewable energy can have substantial benefits to both the climate and to public health, and that these results could be a big player in a full benefit-cost analysis of these projects. Additionally, this research shows that the climate benefits and the health benefits are on par with each other.”
By Derek Markham I September 8, 2015
Renewable energy and energy efficiency projects aren’t only beneficial to the bottom line and to the climate, as they also deliver benefits to public health to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars each year, according to a new study from Harvard University researchers.
The study, “Health and climate benefits of different energy-efficiency and renewable energy choices,” was undertaken by researchers from Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, who developed an assessment tool to calculate the climate and public health benefits of energy efficiency (EE) and renewable energy (RE) projects. The researchers analyzed the positive impacts of these EE/RE projects at six different locations within the Mid-Atlantic and Lower Great Lakes of the US in 2012, and found that depending on the location and the type of project, benefits from EE/RE projects ranged from $5.7 million to $210 million per year, with the highest returns coming from wind farms and energy efficiency measures.
The public health and climate benefits for EE/RE projects were primarily due to “displacing emissions from fossil-fuelled electrical generating units (EGUs),” and individual benefits varied by the region, depending on how much coal-burning was displaced by the projects and how many people lived downwind of the coal plants studied.
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