SSM Health is expanding its decades-long commitment to environmental sustainability with a new multi-year, solar energy initiative that will significantly reduce the health system’s carbon footprint, beginning with the recently completed installation of a field of solar panels next to SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital in Centralia, Illinois. The solar plans will eventually encompass facilities across the four states in which SSM Health serves.
The project helps to fulfill SSM Health’s November 2022 commitment to the White House’s climate pledge for health care organizations to become carbon-neutral by 2050. In the first year, 327,641 kilowatts of energy are expected to be produced by the solar arrays at Centralia. That’s enough to power 31 homes’ use of electricity for one year.
“We’re proud to launch this initiative in Southern Illinois,” said Gerry Kaiser, SSM Health Vice President of Facilities and Real Estate, who is leading the project. “Our hospitals understandably require a lot of energy to succeed in our healing mission, so it’s important that, as much as possible, we generate that energy in a way that minimizes the impact on the environment. Humans can only live their healthiest lives if the planet itself is healthy.”
The Centralia installation is part of the Illinois Solar for All Program. A similar installation is under construction at SSM Health Good Samaritan Hospital in Mt. Vernon — also in Southern Illinois. The panels there are expected to be operational in spring or summer. SSM Health has similar projects planned for later in 2024 in Oklahoma, and in 2025 in Wisconsin. Solar projects in Missouri will follow.
SSM Health has been a pioneer in the preservation of the earth for more than 25 years, beginning by significantly reducing the use of plastic water bottles in its facilities. The health system has also been active in diverting hundreds of tons of surgical waste from landfills, designing facilities with the use of green and LEED standards, planting trees, and investing in funds that promote environmentally friendly practices.
Centralia Solar Energy Field By The Numbers:
The field includes three solar arrays comprised of 520 photovoltaic solar modules, about one-fifth of the size of a football field in square footage.
Using this amount of solar energy instead of electricity from the utility grid reduces carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 256 tons each year.
That’s the equivalent of planting and growing 3,839 trees for 10 years.
Reducing carbon dioxide by 256 tons is also like removing the environmental impact of 51.7 gas-powered passenger vehicles driven for one year.