Energy Savings for Today’s Healthcare Environment by Nan Schramm, LEED GA, EDAC, Fitwel Ambassador, Senior Associate

Hospitals require a large amount of energy to support daily operations on a 24/7 basis. Daily operations include critical systems and medical equipment, as well as supporting the patient experience. Previously, when a hospital attempted to reduce energy consumption, they would focus on back of house spaces. For example, changing out T12 Fluorescent fixtures to T8’s and adding motion sensors to less frequently used spaces. At the time, these small changes were at the forefront of achieving energy savings. Facility managers and designers have been collaborating on new, innovative strategies and tactics to help reduce consumption. Fortunately for the industry, technology has provided several tools.

Energy Saving Tools
In today’s market, facilities can adopt programs such as EnergyStar Portfolio Manager which provides healthcare facilities tools with which to benchmark their energy score against that of their peers. Energy Star Portfolio Manager considers a facility’s climate, weather, and the business activities at the facility. Building activities, such as MRI use, can be significant drivers of energy consumption. General, critical access, and children’s hospitals are eligible to participate. A hospital’s EnergyStar score (a 1 to 100 percentile ranking) is a framework by which a facility can compare its energy use intensity (EUI) to the national averages and that of their peers. By benchmarking energy use, and even greenhouse gas emissions, hospitals are given a tool to understand inefficiencies and a viable set of strategies to address those inefficiencies.

Another great resource is, Practice Greenhealth, an organization whose mission is “to transform healthcare worldwide so that its environmental footprint, becomes a community anchor for sustainability and a leader in the global movement for environmental health and justice”. It is the nation’s leading membership and networking organization for healthcare organizations who have pledged a commitment to sustainability and environmentally preferable practices. Practice Greenhealth provides tools for healthcare facilities to eliminate inefficient energy use while enhancing patient outcomes and minimizing costs. They believe that new initiatives such as The Department of Energy’s, Better Buildings Solutions Center, can help hospitals to identify viable, cost-effective strategies to reduce energy use.

https://practicegreenhealth.org/topics/leaner-energy

Retrofitting Lighting
Retrofitting with LED lighting can contribute to a reduction in hospital energy costs. According to the Department of Energy (D.O.E.), lighting accounts for 10% of a typical hospital’s electrical energy consumption. Now, with LED lighting retrofits or redesigns, the Department of Energy estimates that a 100-bed facility can realize $20,000 per year for operating expenses. In addition to cost savings, a facility’s carbon footprint is reduced, and less load is placed on generating facilities and backup power generating facilities.

Further savings can be achieved by substantially cutting back on lighting usage in special purpose rooms (under-used class rooms, lounges, and cafeterias). Facility operators can curtail lighting and plug loads without interrupting routine operations.

Retro-commissioning
Architects and Engineers can also contribute to energy savings for our clients through retro-commissioning. A process for recalibrating older building systems to help energy costs and improve operations, retro-commissioning often includes upgrading lighting to more energy efficient lamps and controls, and right sizing heating and cooling systems with upgrades or retrofits. Making these retrofits often comes with added benefits of noise reduction and lower maintenance costs.

Self-sufficiency
While not common, some hospitals are going off grid and producing their own energy for self- sufficiency. Sharp Grossmont Hospital in San Diego, CA is now officially off the grid having built their own central energy plant using cogeneration. Cogeneration utilizes combustion turbine generator (CTG). The CTG is powered by natural gas and has the ability to produce more energy than the hospital can use allowing for future growth. The new system also reduces the hospitals greenhouse emissions by 90%.

Eco-Charette
E4H utilizes an “Eco-Charrette” process at the beginning of a project, which builds consensus among the project team (designers, contractors, building users, owners, etc.) to focus on both the big picture as well as the details, thus arriving at an agreement on specific goals, strategies and project priorities relative to energy efficiency and sustainable design. This continual process of verifying quality systems and strategies provides for ready integration into a high-performance building project.

FIRST LOOK: University of Vermont Medical Center’s Robert E. and Holly D. Miller Building

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The University of Vermont Medical Center’s Robert E. and Holly D. Building E4H designed was highlighted by Healthcare Design Magazine! Read the full article here.

This project has been part of E4H’s master plan of the UVM campus. We are thrilled to have been part of the planning and implementation of such a world class healthcare facility. The new 162,000SF inpatient bed replacement project will have 128 private rooms with natural light and ample space for supporting family members.

 

 

Food in Healthcare

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There is a growing trend in healthcare to make hospitals more hospitable. One element of this trend involves hospitals cooking up food that doesn’t taste like ‘hospital food’, but instead restaurant quality fare.

Many restaurants across the country have embraced the ‘localvore’ movement (cooking with locally sourced ingredients). Chefs find that the practice is healthier (requiring fewer preservatives and processing to the foods), more sustainable (necessitating less travel distances and decreased carbon footprint) and more neighborly (purchasing directly from nearby farms and companies).  Hospitals are taking note and have begun to look local for food sourcing.

This trend is not new to The University of Vermont Medical Center (UVM Medical Center). Through our ongoing relationship with the health network, both as architects and as patients (many of our employees utilize the UVM Health Network for care), we have come to appreciate firsthand the benefits of delicious locally sourced food. As part of their sustainability initiative, the University was one of the first to sign the Healthy Food in Health Care Pledge in 2006, dedicating itself to, “providing local, nutritious and sustainable food”. As well as supporting local farmers, it maintains a roof garden which supplies the cafeteria with fresh blueberries, kiwi and assorted vegetables, when in season.

E4H has worked with UVM Medical Center to support multiple sustainability initiatives, during our recent design of the Robert E. and Holly D. Miller Building  at UVM Medical Center, representatives from Nutritional Services were a part of the design team, contributing input on how to best address the nutritional needs of patients in the acute care setting. We have also worked with department leaders to achieve LEED Gold Certification for the  newly renovated Mother Baby Unit and Clinical Research Center.

It is also interesting to note that Hospitals & Health Networks recently reported Connecticut’s New Milford Hospital saw its patient satisfaction scores rise from the 30th percentile to the 95th percentile after implementation of its Plow to Plate local food sourcing movement. Serving tasty local food may also be good business.

We are happy to partner with forward thinking companies like The University of Vermont Medical Center and are excited to see the trend of locally sourcing food to spread across the country.