Reducing operational costs is the number one priority for our health care and other public clients, says Mike Kaufman, president of Kaufman Lynn General Contractors. “We’re all hearing the importance of Renewable Energy—it’s a global megatrend. We’ve acknowledged that our dependency on fossil fuels, and the carbon emissions they create, is an ill-fated situation. As a result, health care facilities absolutely need to consider renewable energy as part of their long-term strategic plans.”

Fortunately for health care facilities, Kaufman Lynn has already done a lot of the planning for them.

“We launched our Renewable Energy Division because our clients talk about it and are now putting it into their future capital plans, and we want to be responsive to our clients’ needs,” Kaufman said. “We’ve been building facilities ranging from free-standing hospitals to ACHA (Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration) hospital projects and regulated skilled nursing facilities. This Division is a natural extension of our core competencies.

“Renewable-energy technology is now more economically viable through government grants and subsidies that have reduced the cost to the point that it’s a reasonable payback period for the investment. In fact, in a relatively short time it ends up being a huge benefit to the facilities.”

Kaufman Lynn’s Director of Renewable Energy, Steve Kaufman (no relation), has a very successful and extensive background in energy project development, government affairs, and a detailed knowledge of various incentives that Kaufman Lynn clients can take advantage of.

“One of the primary goals in our Renewable Energy strategic plan was to educate our clients, and we are actively working to do that,” he said. He gave the example of a grant application they learned will be coming from the Florida Energy and Climate Commission soon that will apply to many of their clients. They were able to give clients advanced notice and assist them in planning how they could deploy it.

(l-r) Steve Kaufman and Mike Kaufman

As an advocate of renewable energy, Steve pointed out that when fuel prices go up, electricity prices generally go up as well. “One of your biggest operating costs at a hospital is your energy bill, and we think that expense is going to continue to outpace inflation pretty significantly. So looking at ways to reduce your energy costs as a hospital operator is going to become increasingly important.

“One of the ways you can do that is by generating some of your own electricity on site. Using solar energy—Solar Photovoltaic panels or solar water heating—are common applications in South Florida.”

Are other construction companies able to do this? “There are numerous solar contractors that serve the needs of very small clients, like residential or small commercial clients,” Mike said. “But we are one of a handful of players in Florida that are actively working with municipal clients and hospital clients. Very few are experienced enough to understand how to work with large institutions and communicate the benefits and the associated risk.

“A lot of people have money for maintenance issues for smaller projects, but not major capital projects, so this is a timely opportunity that doesn’t cost tens of millions of dollars to implement. You can do a small application or you can do large—it doesn’t have to be implemented all at once, like a building.

“So weaving all of this together, we find we’re in a unique spot that could be of great benefit to medical and health care facilities.”