A water reduction project

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A case study: Headwaters Health Care Centre

By Thinusha Param

As the water supply on our planet becomes increasingly scarce, the need to educate our peers within the healthcare community about the importance of the water-energy nexus grows. The production of energy requires the use of water, and the distribution of clean water to end-users requires the use of energy. Understanding this relationship will not only help hospitals reduce their operating costs, but it will also help them play a proactive role in decreasing their facility’s ecological footprint and ultimately mitigate the risks they may face associated with climate change.

This article will look at how one healthcare facility in particular is implementing a Water Reduction Project to decrease their overall water and energy consumption. The Headwaters Health Care Centre located in Orangeville, Ontario serves a population of over 135,000 people and has served its community for over 100 years. This hospital has around 168,000 square feet of hospital space and produces approximately 26,298,000 lbs of steam a year. The team at Headwaters has worked with Klenzoid to implement a Water Reduction Project that identifies system improvement opportunities and optimizes the treatment program to get the steam system operating as efficiently as possible. In addition to lowering operating costs and reducing the water and energy consumption at this facility, this project has also played a key role in extending the lifespan of the facility’s infrastructure.

Project Location: Headwaters Health Care Centre (Orangeville, Ontario)

Project Goals

  • Decrease facility water and energy consumption
  • Reduce steam system operating costs
  • Protect equipment and maximize lifespan of infrastructure

 

  Savings After BD Control Savings After RO Configuration
Water 77% 77.3%
Energy 4% 4.3%
Chemical 33% 78%
Salt 69% 77%
         
  Total Annual Savings $47,548

 

Table 1. Annual savings as a result of the Water Reduction Project

 

  Decrease After BD Control Decrease After RO Configuration
Daily Make-Up (USG/day) 84.4% 84.4%
Daily Blowdown (USG/day) 92% 99.5%
             
  Total Annual Volume Saved 784,192 USG

 

Table 2. Reduction in water consumption as a result of the Water Reduction Project

 

Initiative 1 –  Automating blowdown

The water quality present in the town of Orangeville poses a risk for scaling and corrosion tendencies within the steam system. Pre-treatment equipment and a chemical treatment program were in place for the system comprised of three boilers and an extensive condensate network. No improvements had been made to the steam system’s configuration at this facility since it’s installation in the 1990’s. The steam plant operators were manually blowing down the boilers which was resulting in a significant waste of water, energy and treatment chemical.

The first phase of the Water Reduction Project was to automate the blowdown process. Automating blowdown allows for the continuous control of surface blowdown rates using the system’s conductivity levels. It also reduces the risk of scaling and corrosion through the optimization of the cycles of concentration and total dissolved solids in the system. This initiative resulted in an immediate and significant decrease in the volume of daily blowdown and a corresponding savings in the energy, water and chemicals consumed by the steam plant.

Outcome: Major water, energy and treatment costs savings

 

Initiative 2 – RO system configuration

Reverse osmosis systems improve boiler make-up water quality by preventing dissolved inorganic solids from entering the system. At this facility, a RO system was being used to treat the water entering clean steam humidifiers. As a part of the Water Reduction Project, the piping for the existing RO system was reconfigured to treat the feedwater entering the steam system. The resulting increase in steam purity and heat exchange efficiency translated into a direct increase in operational efficiency. The decrease in the dissolved solids entering the system allows the boilers to operate at higher cycles, markedly dropping the make-up and chemical treatment requirements.

Outcome: Major treatment costs and natural gas savings (includes rebates)

 

Initiative 3 – Optimizing chemical handling

This project also included improving chemical inventory management and operator safety. Switching from the use of chemical pails to the Klenzoid’s Demand DeliveryTM service eliminated unnecessary container waste without compromising adequate dosage control. Delivery of chemicals to the point of use utilizing on-site containment tanks allowed for operators to participate in higher value activities such as on-site water testing and online logging. Prior to this change, team members would carry pails of chemical up three flights of stairs to the boiler room located in the penthouse.  Demand DeliveryTM minimizes the number of deliveries required annually, ensures that there is always inventory on site and eliminates any breaks in the treatment program resulting from low inventory.

Outcome: Treatment costs savings, improvement of the treatment program and on-site safety

The Water Reduction Project taking place at Headwaters is a great example of how greening healthcare can be achieved from within the facility while also optimizing operating costs. Since the implementation of this project, spending on water, energy and treatment chemical has decreased by $47,548 and the hospital has received natural gas rebates for their environmental success. The continual success of the project would not be possible without the effort put forth by the strong partnership between the facility team and Klenzoid. It is essential to work together to get applications operating efficiently through continuous improvement opportunities and an effective treatment program that will ultimately preserve and extend the lifespan of the facility infrastructure.

Hospitals consume mass volumes of water and energy and therefore our decisions bear great weight. We must take into account the water-energy relationship to create sustainable systems that are resilient to climate change and the variability of our water resources. To tackle our planet size issue, we must proactively drive change at the hospital level and focus on projects that aim to reduce our ecological footprint and create a greener tomorrow.

Thinusha Param provides Business Development support for Klenzoid Canada Inc.

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