Energy Optimization for Nationwide Health System: The Benefits Go Beyond Cost Savings

In 2010, a national healthcare company contracted with EH&E to run a pilot energy optimization program at one of its hospitals with hopes of implementing low-cost performance improvements to ensure consistent building system operation. By bringing systems back to their as-designed performance requirements (or in many cases current performance requirements), the facility aimed to reconcile intended performance and inherently reduce its over-all energy use and associated utility costs. EH&E was selected to take on this initiative since the core of its energy optimization program is enabling informed decisions through collection and analysis of real-time performance data of mechanical systems.

EH&E did an analysis of the HVAC system and hospital operations to determine the most impactful low-cost improvements. These included simple adjustments, such as taking certain air handlers/variable-air-volume boxes and associated exhaust/return fans offline for four to eight hours during non-demand periods, replacing leaking valves, and repairing poorly functioning equipment that was found to have inefficiencies.

In its first year, the project achieved 14% energy savings (MMBTU) and a 10% cost reduction. More than a decade after consistent improvements, the hospital has seen estimated cumulative savings of over $1.2 million in operating costs. That’s a striking enough figure on its own, yet only begins to hint at what this program has accomplished.

As this energy optimization program has rolled out across the health system’s nationwide footprint, it’s helped drive millions in cost savings. Overall, the optimization program generates an estimated minimum of $2.5 million in annual revenue to the bottom line across the healthcare system’s portfolio. In addition to the cost savings, it’s also created healthier spaces and driven improvements in building documentation that supported an adaptable COVID response. These energy efficiency improvements have also laid the groundwork as a pivotal first step closer toward the system’s pledge to achieve a 50% reduction in emissions by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2050.

During the performance period the EH&E team continued to revisit the hospital that was the focus of the pilot study and facilities targeted in the program’s earliest stages for regular “tune-ups.” This periodic review allows the energy optimization team to implement new strategies while also updating equipment based on changing space utilization. It also helps ensure that early energy-saving measures put in place are maintained to ensure a lasting impact.

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