Facility Operations and Clean Energy Careers in Healthcare

It is our final week of Energy Action Month. The Wisconsin K-12 Energy Education Program (KEEP) and Slipstream want to share some additional job opportunities people don't often consider when considering careers on the front line of the clean energy future. Many people working outside the solar and wind sector are having an impact as Wisconsin works to achieve its clean energy goals.

Female Energy Manager

Alan Eber and Emma Westphal are two such people. Alan and Emma both work for Gunderson Health System in La Crosse, Wisconsin, the first health care system in the United States to become energy independent. Gunderson achieved energy independence because people throughout the health care system, like Alan and Emma, wanted to take on initiatives to lower the cost of healthcare and positively impact not just patients but also the entire community.

Neighborhood with bike on sidewalk

Director of Facility Operations Alan Eber is responsible for the overall direction, coordination and supervision related to the operations and maintenance of Gunderson's building systems. Alan shared Gunderson's clean energy initiatives have decreased their utility bills, helping reduce the cost of healthcare. At the same time, Gunderson also burns fewer fossil fuels and produces far less pollution, which benefits La Crosse residents and the surrounding area. Alan took a unique route to become a facility operations director. He began his career as a design engineer, designing and working with air conditioning equipment. After 14 years, Alan joined Gunderson Health Care Systems as a construction project manager and soon began working on energy initiatives. It eventually led to his current role. Alan said while being part of a community motivated him to initially join the team at Gunderson, reducing waste in energy is what drives his participation now.

Plan Graphic

Emma Westphal is also a part of Gunderson's clean energy success story. As an Operations Specialist, Emma ensures Gunderson's clean energy facilities are running at peak performance. Emma's bachelor's degree in sustainable resource management and master's degree in business administration has contributed to Gunderson's impact. Emma uses the knowledge and skills from both disciplines to analyze the endless possibilities of how clean energy can benefit Gunderson, its patients and the community. Emma shared her ability to work both individually and as part of a team, understanding of renewable technologies available today, and knowledge of statistics and numbers have led to her success as an operations specialist in a clean energy facility.

Ruler on top of Blueprint

Both Emma and Alan highly recommend students explore many career opportunities in the growing clean energy sector. Businesses are investing in clean energy, which is creating new positions faster than they can be filled. The future of our planet and Wisconsin's ability to meet its carbon-free electricity goal by 2050 relies greatly on Wisconsin's ability to educate and prepare a clean energy workforce. It is off to a great start but needs many students to join and get onboard.

Students working in a group

It's your turn!

Engage at School!

Engage at home, work and in your community!

  • Spread the word about Wisconsin's clean energy goal! Share what you have learned with your students, family, colleagues, elected local or state officials, and community.
  • Consider showing them Slipstream's Clean Energy Careers video series from KEEP, WPPI Energy and Xcel Energy.

Thank you for joining KEEP and Slipstream throughout Energy Action Month as we explored the importance of clean energy careers in meeting Wisconsin's 100% carbon-free electricity goal.

Wisconsin KEEP College of Natural Resources Logo

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