Gundersen Lutheran Health System And City Brewery Form Unusual Partnership

Beer and health care may sound like an odd mix. In one case however, the two have formed an unlikely partnership to get creative with renewable energy.

City Brewery in La Crosse, Wisconsin is using all of its biogas byproduct from the brewing process to create three million kilowatt hours per year of electricity by employing a capturing, cleaning and burning process through an engine called a jenbacher.

Down the road from the brewery is Gundersen Lutheran Health System which is credited for the electricity produced by City Brewery. And while this only accounts for 10-13 percent of their total needs, it means they are on their way to meeting complete energy independence by 2014.

As well as benefiting the hospital, the heat produced from the jenmacher feeds into the brewery's waste water treatment process, making the system more efficient.

According to Gundersen Lutheran's website, the energy the hospital is receiving is enough to provide electricity to 299 homes and is the equivalent of removing 395 cars from the road.

Gundersen Lutheren also incorporates wind power as a renewable energy source. In reaching its 2014 renewable energy goals, the hospital stands to make around $180,000 from the energy it sells back to the power company, according to WaterWorld.com.

The move not only saves money but contributes to the broader goal of slowing climate change. Based on an IEA climate change report, The Guardian said "The central problem is that most industrial infrastructure currently in existence – the fossil-fuelled power stations, the emissions-spewing factories, the inefficient transport and buildings – is already contributing to the high level of emissions, and will do so for decades."

However, the Renewable Energy Markets Association kicked off a new nationwide program on Friday to encourage organizations to purchase renewable energy for at least the next five years, according to EarthTechling. The association has already found success with Austin, Texas committing to the pledge, and the area is the largest city government in the U.S. to switch to 100 percent renewable energy.