MUHC Improves Energy Efficiency to Save Money Two sites retrofit outdated energy equipment


McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) recently announced the completion of a $7.2 million project to modernize its heating and cooling systems at two of its sites. This announcement is part of the activities surrounding Quebec’s Energy Efficiency Week 2003.

Improvements were made over the last six months at the Royal Victoria and the Montreal Children’s Hospitals that will result in a combined annual energy savings of $1.1 million. Together, they will reduce their average annual energy consumption by 30% and average annual energy costs by 20%.

The condition of the old systems had become increasingly unreliable. A major breakdown would have had serious implications on patient care. After careful study and good planning, the MUHC negotiated substantial subsidies from both government and private sectors that reduced the actual costs to $4.8 million.

“As a result of the energy cost savings, the entire project will be self-financed over the next five years,” said Victor Simon, the MUHC’s Chief Operating Officer and Associate Executive Director. “Other savings from the MUHC’s operational budget, such as repairs, maintenance and replacement costs will be directed back to patient care. After five years, a significant amount of the savings will also be generated back into the hospital system.”

Subsidies were granted from Natural Resources Canada’s Office of Energy Efficiency(2 project subsidies at $250,000 each) and the Agence de l’efficacité énergétique du Québec ($40,703). Support for this project also came from Gaz Métropolitan ($47,250) and the Régie régionale de la santé et des services sociaux de Montréal-Centre ($651,000). Energy consumption savings of $500,000 and tax savings of $669,000 contributed to reducing the overall project cost to $4.8 million. In addition, Hydro Québec conducted and sponsored a study on the use of electric off-peak heating boilers.

“Through energy efficiency retrofits, businesses and institutions can lower their energy bills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change,” explained Marie Lyne Tremblay, Chief, Institutional Buildings Sector of Natural Resources Canada’s Office of Energy Efficiency. “By providing additional financial incentives to organizations such as MUHC, the government can better encourage voluntary measures and investments inthese type of facilities.”

“Since this programme was created in 1999, the Agence de l’efficacité énergétique du Québec has financed feasibility studies of 639 buildings within the health and education network for a total of $1,7 M with a 20% estimated monetary savings tied to the implementation of these recommended measures,” said Line Drouin, Director of the Programme. “This is an attractive business solution for administrators who wish to lower their energy costs, increase user comfort and to contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.”

The Royal Victoria building is over 100 years old, with the current heating system dating back to the 1920’s. Originally a coal-fired unit, it had been retrofitted previously to run on natural gas. The system provides energy to the hospital’s heating system, hot water, kitchen and laundry facilities.

Improvements consisted of installing six new gas boilers and one new electric boiler. These upgraded installations will increase energy efficiency and also re-cycle heat losses directly back into the system. At the Royal Victoria Hospital site, this energy efficiency program will result in a 36% reduction in annual energy consumption, which will reduce annual energy costs by 24%.

At the Montreal Children’s Hospital site where the old equipment dates back over 50 years, new chillers were installed that will reduce refrigeration consumption from 6 kw per tonne to .45 kw per tonne. Improvements at this site will produce a 22% reduction in annual energy consumption, which will translate into a 17% annual energy cost savings.

The Montreal environment will also benefit directly from this energy efficient project. Carbon monoxide emissions will be reduced by 5,344 tons annually, which is equivalent to the emissions of 1,500 cars. These decreases are in line with the Kyoto Protocol Agreement.

“By setting an example,” said Victor Simon, “we are creating a more efficient energy system, saving money and contributing to a cleaner environment that in a modest way will improve public health.”

The MUHC is one of North America’s most comprehensive academic health centres. It is a merger of five teaching hospitals affiliated with McGill University Ð the Montreal Children’s, Montreal General, Royal Victoria and Montreal Neurological Hospitals and the Montreal Chest Institute. The MUHC, whose clinical missions are paediatrics, women’s health, neurosciences, mental health, medicine and surgery, sees over 1 million patients each year.