Whole building sustainability: Focusing on energy management to address facility expenses

By Angie Stokes

In healthcare management, there is a shift from the previous disease-management oriented approach to a more holistic, proactive approach to patient care. Physicians and other clinicians are working together in a network of interconnected resources, aided by electronic medical records, to assess the whole person, leading to better outcomes.

Improving Energy Efficiency

Implementing an energy management plan and shifting towards a sustainable building approach is much the same holistic, outcome-based strategy. Improving energy efficiency in your building doesn’t require a huge investment. Even small building energy management projects can yield big results.

This idea can be especially helpful for facilities that face shifting expectations and challenges, like the healthcare industry. Ever changing regulations, budget constraints and competition for capital are key considerations for healthcare institutions. As a result, there is increasing pressure to make sure sustainable facility investments are made.

It is important to implement building management solutions that result in improved facility performance while also keeping patient and occupant comfort, as well as regulatory standards, at the forefront.

Addressing Expenses

When it comes to addressing expenses, healthcare facility managers should consider energy management. According to a 2014 ASHE survey, 51 percent of the annual budget of a typical hospital facilities director is dedicated to energy. Small decreases in energy costs can allow huge gains in the budget for staffing, medical supplies and machinery and other direct care components.

Finding energy management solutions that can help reduce costs is a priority for many healthcare facility managers. One way to reduce costs is to work towards becoming ENERGY STAR certified. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) prestigious ENERGY STAR is the national symbol for protecting the environment through superior energy efficiency. This signifies that the buildings perform in the top 25 percent of similar facilities nationwide for energy efficiency. Commercial buildings that earn the ENERGY STAR use an average of 35 percent less energy than typical buildings, which translates directly into reduced costs.

Small Projects with Big Impact

Recently Owensboro Health partnered with Harshaw Trane to complete improvement projects, maximize patient comfort and energy efficiency while reducing cost.

Harshaw Trane and Owensboro Health used control optimization programs and Harshaw Trane’s Intelligent Services to reach their goals. Using a web-enabled building management system, facility managers have complete access to HVAC systems from any mobile device. On their smartphone or tablet, they can make schedule changes, adjust temperature settings, manage alarms and troubleshoot issues.

Data from the building management system is analyzed by Trane Intelligent Services to identify issues and inefficiencies, as well as opportunities for improvement. Information gathered is used to help determine what can be done to increase efficiency and reduce cost. These improvements saved Owensboro Health approximately $500,000 in sixteen months. They are now working towards achieving an ENERGY STAR certification.

-Angie Stokes is the healthcare vertical market leader at Harshaw Trane.