What can healthcare learn about energy savings from industrial companies?

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In a recent article in Health Facility Management Magazine titled “Tying it all together” by editor Mike Hrickiewicz, the change in the types of facilities we are moving to in health care was never more evident. Facility Managers are inheriting all kinds of facilities in a myriad of styles, ages, and levels of energy efficiency (or not), more than ever before. That poses even more grave challenges on our industry as we work towards reducing operating costs. Newly acquired physician practices, retail clinics, converted shopping malls all come with a new set of facilities with distinct energy efficiency challenges.

Healthcare systems are 15+ years behind their industrial and commercial counterparts in implementing energy efficiency initiatives. What I would consider low hanging fruit (T8 to T5 lamps & ballasts (89%) , LED exit signs (88%), occupancy sensors (75%) we are just beginning to be implemented in most healthcare organizations. Since we are so far behind in healthcare, what can we learn from our industrial and commercial compadres?

Measurement and verification (M&V)!

It isn’t a sexy topic, but it is one well worthwhile investigating for all of you that are really beginning to get a serious glimpse from administration executives when you are able to claim that you can improve the health care system’s profits by reducing the hospital’s operating expenses. The key, you need to prove it, and these folks are all about ROI, IRR and NPV of their investments.

Healthcare Mechanical Services Schneider Electric

Measurement and verification is the process used to track the performance of a piece of equipment, a system, or an entire facility. When we look at ASHE’s analysis of how our hospitals use energy, we can see that while lighting contributes around 9% of a hospital’s facility energy consumption. Your mechanical systems are the true consumers. So what healthcare is currently investing the most in when it comes to energy savings, really isn’t the biggest bang for your buck. What you need to be spending money on from an ROI standpoint, is of course that low-hanging fruit, but after that you are going to need investments from the C Suite on the bigger energy savings opportunities.

Measurement and verification of the investments you make are even more critical. So what methodologies should you use for which projects? We would stipulate, it depends. If you are considering lighting retrofit projects, which you should on your retail spaces, MOBs, administrative offices where calculations are very straightforward and occupancy can be normalized based on the spaces’ use and hours of operation, estimations should be sufficient.  Once your project moves into incorporating lighting controls, HVAC modifications, or any new construction projects, you will want to move to permanent metering and submetering techniques coupled with facility analysis techniques.

A whitepaper Monitoring Lighting Systems for Optimal Performance Measurement and Verification in Lighting Control provides examples of four different techniques commonly used in the industrial and commercial worlds that can easily be employed by healthcare systems for your lighting projects. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy report’s Advance Energy Retrofit guide for Healthcare Facilities US Dept of Energy Site contains a chapter on Measurement and Verification (Chapter 5) detailing planning, approaches and recommendations for specific energy efficiency measures.

Technology, both products and system integration techniques, have advanced to a point where disparate systems can be linked and monitored. It is up to you to pick the partner that can help you as you broach this new world of energy savings in healthcare.

If reading white papers is not your thing, our very own Energy University program has a FREE online course. 

My Energy University Class called Measurement and Verification

 What are some energy saving measures you could add today? Let us know in the comments.





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