Hospital cooling impact - equivalent to 75 million cars

I enjoyed partnering with the Kigali Cooling Efficiency Program, Health Care Without Harm, and NRDC-India on a methodology and report about hospital cooling - the first ever global estimate.

Hospital in India (photo from Natural Resources Defense Council)

Hospital in India (photo from Natural Resources Defense Council)

Cooling is crucial for health. Thermal regulation minimizes heat stress and improves mental function and sleep. Refrigeration prevents spoilage of food, medicines, vaccines and blood. Not surprisingly, hospitals have large demands for cooling for patients and for medical products. Given that hospitals’ cooling demand requires large amounts of energy consumption, hospitals are also responsible for greenhouse gas emissions, representing a significant percent of healthcare’s climate impact.

Estimate of current emissions from hospital cooling (Mt CO2e)

Estimate of current emissions from hospital cooling (Mt CO2e)

The climate impact from hospital cooling is significant and rising. We estimate that 365 Mt CO2e annually comes from hospital cooling – this is equivalent to the emissions from over 75 million cars on the road or 110 coal power plants for an entire year. Three countries – China, the US, and India – represent 45 percent of the total hospital cooling CO2e emissions. Japan, Brazil, and Mexico add another ten percent collectively. Absent efforts to improve efficiency and/or decarbonize the power grid, compared to present day, annual hospital cooling emissions could almost quadruple by 2040 (to ~1,360 Mt CO2e per year)

We recommend four actions to reduce hospital cooling emissions without compromising patient care:

  1. Continue to expand the availability and use of highly efficient and low global-warming potential coolant air conditioners, chillers, and refrigerators

  2. Improve hospital building design to incorporate passive cooling and ventilation and improved ventilation and cooling strategies

  3. Take a systems approach to reduce cooling load and capture waste cold, automating where possible and collecting better data that can inform further improvements

  4. Expand onsite and offsite use of renewable power within healthcare

For the full report, methodology, and recommendations, please see here.

3,700-miles, two young boys, 100-degree heat… and an electric car… what could go wrong?

An American West EV road trip    by Val Hovland (from a summer 2017 trip)

Dinosaur National Monument, Capitol Reef National Park, Redwoods National Park

Dinosaur National Monument, Capitol Reef National Park, Redwoods National Park

For my college essay for MIT, I wrote about my car. My little white Nissan Sentra that held my green tennis racquet in the trunk, my filing folder of debate research, dried fruit, a change of clothes, and a water bottle or two. And of course, my best friend on the lunch trips or the exploratory trips through downtown Denver where we would turn left or right based on when we found the next four letters in the alphabet.

Twenty-two years later, the car is still white, but much has changed. Two car seats in the back hold my two young boys (at the time three and five years old). The trunk in the back has baby backpacks, swim noodles, clean and dirty clothes, and a cooler. But there is also a front trunk for some more clothes, a large display inside helping us map our route or favorite the four songs the boys keep requesting or view the road behind us, and a windshield that is so big it keeps going into the back. Most importantly, there is no engine. We are in an electric car. And we are on a 16-day, 3,700-mile summer road trip through the American West!

Klamath River, Salmon at a Yurok ceremony

Klamath River, Salmon at a Yurok ceremony

The impetus for our trip was a Yurok tribal ceremony at the mouth of the Klamath River for the young son of friends of ours. But that was in far northern California. We live in Boulder, Colorado.

First, out came the maps of all of the national parks, national monuments, and wilderness areas across the West. How could we plan our trip that saw beautiful places every day, allowed us to get outside and hike, didn’t spend too many hours in the car, fit within our two-weeks off, and allowed us to charge the car?


Superchargers

Superchargers

What do you do when the chargers are full? There we were. At the long-awaited supercharger in the middle of Los Angeles, after the longest day of the trip by far. Tired of traffic and finding ways to distract the boys. Getting very low on range, anxious to get to the extended family’s house to visit and unwind from the day, and two hungry boys to boot. But as we drove up to the dealership and rounded the corner, we found all four superchargers full! Do we wait and risk tired and hungry kids, or move on and hope we can make it to the next charger? Weighing the value of kid happiness highly, we opted to leave. We made it to our destination with a few miles left, slowly trickle charged through a regular outlet overnight, and had just enough miles to reach the next supercharger on our way out of town.


We needed a bit more planning. But I love planning. And I love spreadsheets (in my work I am known as the master of spreadsheets, though this one doesn’t need to be too complicated). We had some operating constraints and targets:

Ruby Mountains Wilderness Area, Sequoia National Park

Ruby Mountains Wilderness Area, Sequoia National Park

  • Plan the route to include charging stations every 200 miles (the car’s range is around 250 miles so that gave us flexibility). Ideally these charging stations are fast/DC chargers (which allow us to charge in around an hour), but if necessary (especially when we are off the main highway) we can plan an overnight stop near a Level 2 charger (one that charges the car overnight). In two cases, we plugged into a normal wall outlet to give us a few miles on a trickle charge (see green section above). And in one case, we drove north an extra 22 miles to reach a supercharger. Important resources were Plugshare.com, Google maps, and the Supercharger map (all of which are now quick links on my browser).
  • Do an outdoor activity every day. It was crucial for us to get outside. We mostly hiked in national parks, national monuments, and wilderness areas, but we found on this trip that the boys like water and boating too. One challenge was Nevada: where to stop in a state that has a dearth of ‘green spots at which to stop’ when looking at the national parks/monuments map? Through a little searching, we found a beautiful refuge in the Ruby Mountain Wilderness Area. My older son also wanted to earn as many Junior Ranger badges from the national parks and monuments along the way as possible. Important resources were maps of all of the national parks and national monuments and wilderness areas for planning and the All Trails website (ahead of time) and app (during the trip. Quick tip: get the map on your phone ahead of time, then put your phone in airplane mode so the app doesn’t try to look for service and lose the map, this way you can use the app to track your progress while hiking.).
  • Ideally drive less than 4 hours each day and keep the boys occupied when we are driving. We kept to this time frame most days, but did have a few long driving days. A huge bunch of new library books are a great thing to keep the boys interested in the car (Tip for next time: bring more books and bring new ones out every day instead of just keeping five for the second week of the trip). Lots of car-friendly snacks and occasional new toy cars are also crucial.
  • Have fun, make time to visit friends and family, celebrate my son’s 5th birthday, and be part of a special (and all-night) brush dance ceremony on the Klamath. I love songs. Even today I get chills when remembering my friend’s brother singing “Ooohhhh, ooooohh Requa!”

Mojave National Preserve

Mojave National Preserve

What about when your son falls into a cactus? There we were. In the middle of the Mojave National Preserve after 4-wheel driving on some pretty rocky roads, having just successfully climbed Teutonia Peak, the sun getting low and beautifully illuminating the Joshua trees, casting long shadows. My 5-year old son, racing down the trail, was going a little too fast and at a turn fell with his hand squarely onto a cactus, thereby covering his entire palm in spikes. Some long, some quite small. He bravely held still for me to sit down on the trail and slowly remove most of the prickles that I could (only getting upset when he saw the multitool come out that I was thinking of using). For next time, I learned that you are actually supposed to remove cactus spines using tweezers and not your hands, and that regular Elmer’s glue can help remove small spines.


With a little back and forth, we had our plan. We looped from Colorado through northern Utah (I-70 through Rifle to Vernal and Salt Lake) and Nevada (I-80 through Elko to Tahoe) to California (Palo Alto, Redwood highway north to Klamath, back down through San Francisco and Sequoia National Park and Los Angeles), and returned via southern Nevada (I-15 to Lake Meade) and middle Utah (Capital Reef National Park) and back to Boulder.

Lake Tahoe, Redwoods

Lake Tahoe, Redwoods

We immersed ourselves in so many beautiful places. The folds of rock in Dinosaur National Monument (Colorado/Utah border) where the wild Yampa meets the Green River, viewed from above at Harper’s Landing. The amazing, strong, tall redwoods in Muir National Monument and Sequoia National Park, offering shade and inspiring awe. The shimmer of Lake Tahoe from our kayak (my younger son transitioned from being scared of the waves at first to being excitedly announcing ‘here comes the swell!’). The strong wind on the Golden Gate Bridge. The lush greenery around a Trillium Falls in Redwood National Park. Light filtering through a small hole in an underground lava tube in the Mojave National Preserve. The narrows and warm water of Lake Meade. Petroglyphs and slot canyons and arches in Capitol Reef National Park. Literally cool caves as havens from the heat in Goblin Valley State Park. We even drove through a big redwood tree.

We saw wildlife. Spouting whales and loud sea lions and a bucket of tiny crawling crabs in the Pacific near Muir Beach and within Point Reyes National Seashore. A baby fox in Muir National Monument. A banana slug along the trail to Trillium Falls. Eagles and osprey flying above the wild Klamath River. Deer in Capitol Reef National Park. And the boys were excited for our horse-driven carriage ride around Eureka.

And we connected with friends and family. Friends from college offering food and places to stay. Friends from birth classes with soft woodpeckers and shells and fur decorating ceremonial outfits. Family with a new business to show us. Even new friends on the beach who shared snacks and stories or a helper on the Madaket who showed my sons the workings (drive shaft and chains for turning) of the 100-year old boat.

Some lessons and observations:

  • Planning charging stops around meal times works well. Or at least you can stretch your legs and get out of the car, a very important thing to do with two young kids.
  • Not all charging plugs or places charge at the same rate. Of course, we try to plug in to those that are directly serviced and not also charging a second car. But a quick call to support helped us choose the best one even when no one else was charging. Charging in 100+F heat (as in central California) takes quite a bit longer.
  • Electric vehicles are growing across the west. Supercharger stations are not full in Nevada or Utah. In Colorado you see another car or two. But in California almost all plugs are full.
  • The falcon-wing doors were a fun icing on the cake. They are extremely practical for getting in and out and they attract the most attention from others, which offers a good time to talk about how much we love the car – on its own and what it means for the environment.

My boys play with cars and trucks, similar to most boys. But they don’t fill up at the gas station. They take the car to plug it into the wall. They know this is the future.

Pacific near Requa (CA), Redwoods, Pt. Reyes National Seashore, Lava Tube (Mojave), Golden Gate Bridge

Pacific near Requa (CA), Redwoods, Pt. Reyes National Seashore, Lava Tube (Mojave), Golden Gate Bridge

 

Norway, electric vehicles, and a trip to my ancestral home

The town of Hovland, Norway

The town of Hovland, Norway

I am a good part Norwegian. My name, Hovland, comes from a very small town set between a fjord and steep mountains. There is just enough space for a little farming: mostly apples, occasionally some plums. Sheep graze under the apple trees. In the town, there used to be a factory that made wool, which then was a brewery, and now bottles water from the Isklar glacier, which is across the fjord but visible from the town of Hovland. There were originally two farms. “Hov” means from the farmstead (or ‘hay’ land). My father’s father’s father came from Norway and moved to America.

Visiting my ancestral town helped me understand that my love of mountains and glaciers and apples but also the sea and boats comes a little from my blood.

NorwayWaterfall.jpg

Norwegians know how to do some amazing things. Like bore long tunnels through hard rock and mountains. One road even went over itself in a circle, just down a few tens of feet. Or garner clean power from water, with hydro plants taking advantage of each elevation drop of water. It helps that the mountains tower above many towns, such as Odda.

What brought me here? Electric vehicles. Norway is leading the world in uptake of electric vehicles (almost 40 percent of new light duty vehicles are EVs currently); part of what I do professionally is work to increase uptake of EVs and more broadly to advance clean, low-carbon transportation. A few colleagues and I wanted to come to the source to see what this small Scandinavian country was doing to see such transformational results.

In the States, we are working to push EVs beyond a boutique product, beyond first movers, beyond the enviros. Sales are less than two percent nationally (0.9 percent in 2016[1]), though they are higher in some places (such as California), and are growing. Think about what two percent of something means: less than 30 minutes of a day, less than what one spends on city taxes. Now think about 40 percent: 9.5 hours of a day, more than what one might spend on housing from an income. That is something to catch your attention!

So where is Norway on EVs, how did they get here, and how do they move forward? They are beyond the first movers and moving into mainstream. They are beyond the myths and have moved into early mass market.

** The availability of EV models was a huge driver in uptake, not only driven by supportive financial (tax-free EVs) and other incentives (free toll roads, parking). It was the 1990’s when the government passed the policy related to EV exemption from purchase taxes and value-added-taxes, originally to support local industry and the EV company Think Global, but only in the past few years (when models have become increasingly available) have the sales skyrocketed. Norway continues to have a broader climate-friendly tax policy for cars whereby taxes increase as the CO2 intensity increases.

** They have proven that cold weather and EVs can go together (even though the range lowers). One owner in Bodø proudly touts that it is easier to start an EV in -30C weather than a combustion engine (no ‘engine warmers’ needed)!

** They have moved past early concerns such as range anxiety (will a car I may buy have enough energy to get me where I want to go?) into charger availability anxiety (how long will I need to wait when I drive up in my EV to a fast charging station whose chargers are all full? What do I do if I need to charge overnight using public charging stations because I live in multi-family housing, but they are full?). A proposed policy in Oslo would require 100 percent of new buildings to be EV ready, addressing an issue of multi-family charging availability.

** They moved past early-adopter promotions such as free tolls or free parking into long-term policies that always prioritize low-carbon modes by passing rules such as one that requires any EV charges (tolls, ferries, parking) be a maximum of half of fees for petrol-based vehicles.

** They have moved beyond initial placement for and having some fast charging to large-scale fast-charger planning. Currently, less than 15 percent of EV owners use fast chargers weekly. But as more and more cars are electrified, fast charging will become more important. They established a country-wide plan for EV chargers every 50 km, bundling long stretches awarded to private EVSE (electric vehicle supply equipment) providers (who receive government support) to avoid the problem where providers might only install chargers in high-density, high-use areas such as downtown Oslo.

** They have moved beyond the problem of finding charging service providers (there are over 1,000 fast chargers at over 550 stations hosted by a mix of providers), to nuances of the best way to charge for charging – most charge by the minute (and not by kWh), but a better way might be by both minute and kilowatt-hour (this can minimize wait time at chargers, as it takes into account that batteries charge fastest when they are at a lower state of charge, but charge more slowly as the battery gets filled up). In the future, you may be able to adjust your power level (kW charging) and also see your cost adjusted accordingly.

** They have moved beyond boutique and lower-range vehicles to higher-range and larger EVs. Ones that can fit the whole family. But the demand exceeds availability. Wait times for upcoming EVs are long. Television commercials advertise EVs that won’t be available for another 1.5 years!

** They are moving from battery-EVs having free access to bus lanes to BEV2+ (available when there are 2 or more people in the car).

** Higher power loads of EVs charging from the grid has not given the utilities pause. Norway gets most of its electricity from hydro, which means they don’t have to worry about grid stability or challenges with large-scale integration of intermittent renewables (solar and wind). This makes it much easier for the power sector to absorb high penetration of (and charging) EVs. Norwegians also use power for heat, so they are used to large demands in the winter – they have a huge incentive to be able to deal with large loads and keep the power on “to keep old people from dying.”

** Norway continues to be a leader regarding country-wide and city policies to reduce CO2 emissions. But there will always be challenges, including one a few days before we arrived where politicians (in the minority party) announced their intention to eliminate the vehicle tax benefits. The challenge is aggressively being fought against.

Me on Trolltunga, Norway

Me on Trolltunga, Norway

I found it exciting to see so much progress on EVs, and to think through how to work on policies and efforts that have the end goal in mind. Driving around town, it is busy game to play spot the EV – here is a Leaf, there goes an i3, I spot a Tesla Model X, see that VW e-Golf, oh there is a Model S, a Renault ZOE! Even the Trolltunga Guesthouse, in Tyssedal (south of Hovland and north of Odda on the Sorfjorden fjord, and a good basecamp for the demanding 17-mile roundtrip hike to Trolltunga – troll’s tongue, see picture), has a Tesla Level 2 charger, put it at their own expense.

As it turns out, pursuing EVs is also in my blood.

 

***

Please note that these are some first impressions after limited research and a wonderful meeting with the Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association – much more insight and lessons are sure to be gained with more involvement (one such opportunity is the Nordic EV Summit that the Norwegian EV Association is holding February 1-2, 2018 in Oslo).

[1] IEA Global EV Outlook, https://www.iea.org/publications/freepublications/publication/GlobalEVOutlook2017.pdf