Facility overhaul to save energy and dollars

436

A major facility and equipment upgrade will see the hospital save three-quarters of a million dollars annually – one light bulb and toilet flush at a time.
The $10.5-million energy renewal and retrofit program will allow KGH to reduce energy costs and reduce its impact on the environment. The improvements, which will take place over the next 16 months, combine innovative roof-mounted solar panels with traditional energy-efficiency upgrades such as updating light fixtures and installing low-flow toilets and sinks.
The combined improvements will save the hospital about $760,000 in utility costs per year – a significant savings given the hospital’s current utility bill is about $4.5 million annually. KGH will use the money it saves on utilities, including about $118,000 in energy retrofit incentives from Kingston Hydro and other provincial and federal incentive programs, to pay for the upgrades. Once all of the improvements are paid for, additional savings can be used to upgrade other infrastructure needs or fund other programs and initiatives.
“This is a unique approach to upgrading our facility,” explains Chris Mackey, director of facilities and plant maintenance. “We will use our operational savings to fund all of the upgrades which will continue to save us money for years to come.”
The upgrades are based on a nine-month facility audit in early 2010 by Honeywell. The audit included a thorough assessment of the hospital’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, mechanical equipment, air quality, lighting and building automation systems. The Honeywell team also looked at ways to implement renewable energy technologies and other facility-related improvements.
The program will impact more than one million square feet of space across 27 buildings on our hospital campus. One of the focal points of the project is the use of 403 solar panels mounted on the roof of one of the hospital’s patient towers. This system is expected to generate 95 kilowatts of electricity, enough energy to power 30 homes annually. This will also create nearly $75,000 in annual revenue for the hospital under the Ontario Power Authority’s Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) program.
Other improvements include installing high-efficiency boilers and low-flow bathroom fixtures, replacing obsolete ventilation systems and updating mechanical systems, windows and light fixtures.
Although Chris says much of the work will take place behind the scenes, in mechanical rooms and in ceilings and bathrooms, the improvements are very tangible in reducing the hospital’s carbon footprint.
To put it in perspective: the program will eliminate approximately 2,200 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year, equivalent to removing nearly 740 cars from the road according to figures from Environment Canada. In addition, KGH will conserve nearly 72,000 cubic meters of water annually, the same as filling 29 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
The upgrades will begin immediately and should be completed by January 2012.
To help staff and patients learn more about the renewal program, Honeywell and KGH have created an “Energy Matters” website. There, visitors can track the KGH project’s progress and pick up some tips for energy savings at work and home. The site also features videos, blogs, quizzes and mythbusters.
Chris says he hopes the new program will increase awareness about the need to practise energy conservation regularly – at home and at work. Staff are encouraged to help by turning off lights and computers when not in use, and wearing appropriate clothing for the season so that the heating and air conditioning systems do not have to work as hard.
“Technology plays an important but only partial role in energy conservation. People’s actions can often make a larger contribution to energy conservation and help sustain the savings far into the future.”
Honeywell has helped more than 50 health-care facilities across Canada reduce energy use and carbon dioxide emissions including London Health Sciences Centre, Cambridge Memorial Hospital, the Ottawa Hospital’s General Campus and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.
Given the age and condition of several of its buildings, Chris says KGH is long overdue for this kind of major overhaul.
“Sections of our hospital are very old – some dating back to the 1830s – and these areas are not only inefficient but also difficult to maintain,” says Chris. “These upgrades will allow us to not only save utility costs but also improve the physical environment and comfort for patients, visitors and staff.”