Hamilton Health Sciences energy upgrades produce leaner, greener hospitals

Hamilton Health Sciences (HHSC), the second largest hospital system in Ontario, is operating more efficiently and with less impact on the environment thanks to a pioneering energy conservation and infrastructure renewal program.

Publicly funded hospitals face a challenging array of priorities. They must provide top-notch patient care while controlling costs, keeping infrastructure up-to-date and promoting environmental stewardship.

“Our renewal program is reducing energy costs, and allowing us to use the resulting savings to fund infrastructure improvements,” says Alan Olinyk, Director of Engineering at HHSC. “It is streamlining operations, reducing our environmental footprint and improving patient care.”

The best-of-all-worlds solution is made possible through the expertise of Johnson Controls, a building efficiency company specializing in creating comfortable, safe and sustainable environments. Johnson Controls has a presence in more than 40 per cent of North American hospitals.

Hamilton Health Sciences’ project is the largest collection of energy conservation contracts implemented by any Canadian hospital. Environmental improvements include building controls with energy management features, lighting upgrades, high efficiency boilers and chillers, and new air handlers with variable frequency drives that optimize energy use.

The upgrades will save $48 million in energy over 10 years, significantly cutting Hamilton’s annual greenhouse gas emissions. The estimated impact of this change is the equivalent of planting 3.5 million trees.

Improvements will come at no long-term cost to Hamilton Health Sciences. Energy savings will pay back the project’s entire cost within 10 years. Johnson Controls has guaranteed the savings based on its modeling of thousands of similar facilities world wide.

One of the project’s components that is having a direct impact on patient safety is the replacement of medical air and vacuum systems to improve reliability in clinical areas. Upgrades to air handling units will include anti-microbial coatings that can reduce airborne infections within the hospital.

“As a health-care facility, we seek to provide the best patient care possible. This initiative demonstrates our commitment to that goal as well as to our shared environment and our future,” says Murray Glendining, Executive Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Hamilton Health Sciences. “It’s about doing the right thing for our hospital and for the environment.”

Work on the improvements is underway at McMaster University Medical Centre, Henderson General Hospital and Chedoke Hospital, and energy upgrades to Hamilton General Hospital are expected to begin in the near future. Although the majority of the work will be completed by mid-2009, Hamilton Health Sciences is already enjoying energy savings.