Gundersen Health System adds solar canopy to parking lot

Published: Sep. 15, 2023 at 3:15 PM CDT
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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) - This spring, crews installed a solar canopy on top of Gundersen Hospital’s blue parking ramp. Gundersen expects the project to save money on energy.

this was a project that Gundersen decided to do. We’re always looking for ways to move forward on our sustainable energy initiatives. And as we were looking for places to put solar, the ramp came up and we said, what could we do with that ramp? And talked to a number of different vendors and they said this is what we could do with it. So we said, this is a great opportunity for Gundersen to do,” says Alan Eber, the director of envision at Gundersen. “It puts power directly into a facility that we could use the power in. It will actually improve the look of our parking ramp. It’s very visible for our staff and for our patients to see all the effects that we have on sustainable energy and all the good that we do with that.”

Gundersen was able to get the project done with help from local partners.

“We have really great local partners here in lacrosse that help us with a lot of our energy initiatives. And with this one, Stanek Electric was key to helping us. Modern Mechanical was also very supportive. And then we use Fowler and Hammer. The design where it came from a group called Premise Engineering,” says Eber.

Gundersen intends to continue it’s plans for clean energy and lowering costs in the future.

“By doing this, we’re lowering costs right now. We’re lowering our cost by over five and a half million dollars a year. We reduced our harmful emissions that we generate by 50%. We are always looking for opportunities to do better in that area. On top of that, we’ve just partnered with Bellin Health and there’s lots of opportunity there. So we’re very excited to go work with Bellin and help them along the same journey that we walked at Gundersen,” says Eber. “In fact, we’re looking at helping some other health care facilities as well. We can do a lot here. We have done a lot of Gundersen, but if we get more health care facilities to follow our lead, we can make a greater impact all over the nation.”

The canopy is expected to deliver 1,000MWh (megawatt hours) of electricity to the hospital annually. That is enough to power 10,600 homes. This is the latest innovation in Gundersen Envision’s portfolio of renewable energy projects. Officials say that in 2014, Gundersen was the first U.S. health system to have achieved days, weeks, and months of energy independence.