Hospitals Invest in Energy-Efficiency Upgrades

by | Dec 29, 2009

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UPMCChildren'sHospitalHospitals are receiving much needed energy-efficiency upgrades thanks in part to special funding and grants designed to defray some of the costs. These upgrades can also lead to lower emissions, which is a significant related benefit considering that the U.S. healthcare sector accounts for 8 percent of the country’s carbon-dioxide emissions, according to a recent report.

As an example, the Raritan Bay Medical Center, in New Jersey, has received a $3.1-million award from the Public Service Electric and Gas Company (PSE&G), under its new Hospital Efficiency Program, to implement energy-efficiency improvements at its Perth Amboy location, reports

The program is aimed at hospitals in PSE&G’s service territory that lack capital to pay for energy-efficient improvements, reports It was also created to stimulate New Jersey’s economy, reduce carbon emissions and create jobs, according to the article.

The medical center will upgrade several energy-consuming equipment and systems, including the installation of new cooling towers, boiler burners, windows and a new roof for one of the hospital’s wings, according to the article. Other energy-efficient measures cited include chiller optimization, the installation of efficient motors, lighting improvements and a centralized building management system. The installations will be completed in 2010.

Raritan Bay Medical Center expects to save more than $1 million on energy expenses over the next three years, reports

In addition to having the distinction of being the first all-digital pediatric hospital in the U.S. with a 100-percent electronic medical recordkeeping system, UPMC’s new $622-million state of the art Children’s Hospital (CHP) and research facility in Lawrenceville, Pa., has invested in several green technologies to save on energy and reduce maintenance costs, reports the

CHP is expected to receive the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. Some of the measures CHP implemented to earn the certification include the use of water-efficient landscaping practices, an electronic medical record system, efficient lighting and a new Pediatric Environmental Medicine Center, reports

In August, UPMC  partnered with Duquesne Light Company, to help the hospital better manage its energy usage. A grant from Duquesne Light is covering part of the cost of installing a new computer program that will help UPMC monitor power settings for 30,000 PCs across the health system’s network. UPMC expects to cut 50 percent of the power used by its PCs, which will reduce electricity use by 10,464,000 kWh annually, translating into a $1-million annual savings, according to UPMC.

Several other hospitals over the past year including Gundersen Lutheran, based in LaCrosse, Wis., have added chiller-power optimization software to save energy and are using solar energy to defray the cost of lighting and ventilation.

Two hospitals in Canada also made significant energy-efficiency upgrades this year that are expected to pay for themselves in improved energy costs.

U.S. military hospitals are also striving to reduce energy use and associated costs. As an example, the Aviano Air Base hospital in Italy is the first U.S. facility overseas to earn the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star rating, reports the U.S. Air Force.

The EPA provides a technical five-stage approach for hospitals that are considering an Energy Star rating. According to Energy Star, hospitals that undergo a retro-commissioning, or ensure that systems are maximized for utility and efficiency, typically see a 12-15 percent energy savings over an 18-month period.

Energy-saving projects have saved the hospital more than $150,000 since the start of its Energy Star process, saving 579,185 kilowatt-hours of electricity and 88,026 cubic meters of natural gas, according to the U.S. Air Force.

Some of the no-cost measures cited include implementing illumination control measures, raising the chilled water set point to increase performance, as well as modifying digital communications systems and thermostats to control building temperature.

Funded projects included the installation of lighting sensors in bathrooms, the addition of a cooling system to an existing chiller and the replacement of air handling units with energy-efficient units, reports the U.S. Air Force.

The hospital staff is evaluating a range of additional energy-saving measures such as improving the operating room heating, ventilation and air conditioning system; adding a cogeneration plant; and using photovoltaic energy to supply supplemental power to the hospital.

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