Distributed Energy Magazine

Reader Profile: Nolan Rutschilling

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As 24/7 critical operations, energy reliability is the lifeblood for hospitals. Because of their extensive energy use, efficiency also is critical to the bottom-line. ENERGY STAR hospitals save about 35% on energy costs as compared to typical hospitals. Ohio leads the nation in ENERGY STAR-certified hospitals, with 12 achieving the necessary score for national recognition. Leading the charge to sustain the work it has taken to get to this point is Nolan Rutschilling, director of the Energy & Sustainability program for the Ohio Hospital Association. In 2016, the program was awarded top honors by the Association of Energy Engineers for corporate energy management in its Midwest region. In 2018, 17 hospitals reached the threshold to receive the Melvin Creeley Award, which recognizes Ohio hospitals for achieving a baseline energy and environmental performance with a multi-year plan to achieve further environmental sustainability.

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What He Does Day To Day
Rutschilling manages a team that assists the organization’s 237-member hospitals in saving money and reducing their environmental impact through ENERGY STAR benchmarking, utility procurement strategies, energy audits, pollution prevention, and other sustainability needs. Nolan’s energy team works to ensure hospitals are represented at the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, successfully establishing hospital energy efficiency rebate programs with Ohio’s investor-owned utilities. “Ohio hospitals can take advantage of hospital-specific enhanced rebates that further reduce the timeline for a Return on Investment from energy projects such as LED lighting, boiler and chiller replacements, and operating room setback strategies,” he says. Additionally, Nolan’s energy team has successfully ensured reductions in multiple fees and charges on hospital energy bills, saving millions of dollars for hospitals in reduced alternate feed fees, demand charges, and low rates. The program also focuses on hospital resiliency to guarantee hospitals remain operational in emergency situations or extreme weather scenarios. Rutschilling works with technical experts to inform hospitals of resiliency-focused technologies such as microgrids, combined heat and power systems, electric vehicle charging, and onsite renewable energy.

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What Led Him To This Line Of Work
“I have long held a passion for energy and the environment,” says Rutschilling. As a student at The Ohio State University, he studied environmental policy and decision making with a focus on climate change and worked for the Columbus Zoo, Columbus Recreation and Parks Department, and The Ohio State Office of Energy Services and Sustainability. After graduating, Rutschilling worked for four years at a nonprofit focused on alternative transportation fuels such as natural gas, propane, and electric vehicles where he wrote grants, held consumer education events regarding electric vehicles, and managed electric vehicle charging infrastructure projects. Rutschilling assisted the City of Columbus in designing the electrification portion of the application for the Smart City Challenge, a competition started by the US Department of Energy and the Vulcan Foundation to encourage mid-sized cities to pursue strategies reducing their carbon footprint and electrify the transportation sector through the resulting collaboration with the US Department of Transportation. Rutschilling began employment at the Ohio Hospital Association in 2017.

What He Likes Best About His Work
“I love helping hospitals pursue sustainability because it creates a win-win scenario,” points out Rutschilling. “Hospitals reduce their environmental footprint and greenhouse gas emissions while also saving money that can be utilized into hiring more nurses, purchasing better medical equipment, and ensuring patient safety and comfort. Every day I interact with hospital facility directors, finance officers, and CEOs who are looking to make the most of increasingly limited budgets. By helping them implement energy efficiency, waste reduction, and renewable energy projects, I’m able to introduce the concept of environmental sustainability as a core value for healthcare.”

His Greatest Challenge
“The biggest challenge of assisting hospitals in making energy decisions is balancing limited budgets and a constantly shifting political and regulatory environment,” says Rutschilling. “Hospitals desire reliability and security in their energy supply, so above all else projects must demonstrate a proven record of dependability and guaranteed cost savings.” He works with hospitals, utilities, and Public Utilities Commission of Ohio regulators to ensure hospitals can reliably take advantage of rebates that dramatically increase their return on investment from energy-saving projects. “Any shifts or reductions in those energy efficiency incentives causes uncertainty for hospitals, which makes sustainability projects difficult,” he addsBE_bug_web

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