The VA Hospital Gets Its Green On

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Tucson’s Southern Arizona VA Health Care System — aka the VA hospital over on South Sixth Avenue — is getting hip to the greener side of things thanks to some federal stimulus money.

Here’s the press release with more info.

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords today welcomed the announcement that the Department of Veterans Affairs is targeting nearly one-quarter of its $1.4 billion in funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to investments in clean energy generation and energy conservation.

Among the investments is $1.14 million that will be coming to Tucson’s Southern Arizona VA Health Care System for the installation of solar photovoltaic panels.

“The transition to a clean-energy economy must include harnessing Arizona’s most abundant resource: the sun,” said Giffords. “I applaud the VA for its efforts to lead us in a new direction away from our dependence on foreign oil.”

According to an announcement made Wednesday by Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki, the VA will direct more than $68 million in stimulus funds to renewable energy sources, including solar, wind, and geothermal. The department also dedicated nearly $238 million toward retrofitting existing buildings to use energy and water more efficiently.

VA hospitals in Tucson, Phoenix and Prescott will receive a total of $4.78 million.

“Since hospitals use such large amounts of energy, we need to step up our efforts to transition to clean-energy technologies,” Shinseki said. “These measures, identified through regularly scheduled energy audits, facility condition assessments, and ongoing monitoring by energy engineers and other staff, are important steps in ‘greening’ VA.”

Shinseki’s announcement follows last month’s passage of the American Clean Energy and Security Act by the House of Representatives. This legislation is aimed at boosting production of renewable energy while creating jobs, reducing dependence on foreign energy, and limiting harmful greenhouse gas emissions. At the insistence of Giffords and Reps. Dina Titus of Nevada and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, the bill included a provision to significantly increase the use of renewable electricity by the federal government — the nation’s largest energy consumer.

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