Gundersen Lutheran-Onalaska Campus goes green

By: Alyssa Fenske Email
By: Alyssa Fenske Email

ONALASKA, Wis (WEAU)- An area hospital says it’s now the nation’s first known medical campus that’s fully-powered by methane gas from a landfill.

The project was 3-years in the making, and it now gives the Gundersen Lutheran-Onalaska Campus even more renewable energy than it needs.

And the whole project cost just over 3 million dollars.

Methane gas is usually burned at a landfill. It’s not good for the environment, and is a waste of the product.

Now, Gundersen Lutheran is teaming up with La Crosse County to put the methane to better use.

“We were flaring this gas, which is standard. We’re now collecting that gas and instead of burning and wasting that energy it’s being combusted in the engine,” said Director of the La Crosse County Waste System, Henry Koch.

The generator converts the gas into energy, then it puts the energy back into the power grid. The clinic uses it, and so do nearby businesses.

“We put power to the grid because we can’t use all of the electricity on this campus. We make more than we can use,” said Executive Director of Envision, Jeff Rich.

“The generator is making about 150 thousand BTU’s per minute. That’s a tremendous amount of energy that’s coming out of this system,” said Koch.

The generator isn’t the only thing that’s green. Heat is also being captured from the generator and piped to the clinic.

“All this helps us save the cost for patients in the long run, and helps us control the cost of health care,” said Rich.

There’s about 1.5 miles of pipeline that connects the landfill to the generator. The pipeline goes under the interstate and is on the outskirts of the city. It was inspected earlier this year and passed with flying colors said Koch.

This is all part of Gundersen’s Envision program; and with it
Gundersen has become an energy efficient model for other businesses and hospitals all around the nation.

Envisions goal is to have all of Gundersen Lutheran 100% energy independent by 2014.

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