Like most hospitals, Metroplex strives to operate with the greatest possible energy efficiency while ensuring patient and staff safety and comfort. With the help of Ridgecrest Energy Advisors, the hospital’s initiative in 2013 has resulted in its first-place finish among hospitals in EPA’s 2013 ENERGY STAR National Building competition (http://www.energystar.gov/
When Ridgecrest Energy Advisors (http://www.ridgecrestenergy.com/
However, allowing Ridgecrest engineers to at least perform the no-cost analysis made sense to Tom Riddle and Carlyle Walton. It would provide them with a perspective they would not get elsewhere. Also, although Metroplex has plans to replace some old air handling units and associated controls, they wanted to determine and implement all possible no-cost/low-
Ridgecrest completed the analysis and presented its findings to the hospital, which agreed to Ridgecrest’s implementation of five major ECMs with an organized, phased approach. Because Ridgecrest’s business model consists of sharing only “actual” savings achieved after ECMs are implemented, this proved to be a true win-win for Metroplex Adventist and Ridgecrest.
Control Program Enhancements. Throughout the analysis and implementation of the ECMs, control issues were identified and either corrected or brought to the attention of the engineering staff. Many of the ECMs were somewhat unique to the industry. The programs were “automated”
· Air handling units
· Zone VAV boxes and thermostats
· Cooling towers
· Boilers and associated pumps
It was important to ensure that comfort and indoor air quality would not only be uncompromised, but actually improved where possible.
Challenges. The chiller plant and boiler plant configurations and controls presented challenges. A total of four chillers had been installed at different times, all with different cooling capacities and flow requirements. The boiler system included multiple back-up boilers which needed to be kept warm, so they were available in stand-by mode. And the central controls system included three different age/technology control panels, one of which had no capacity for programming enhancements. Although a majority of controls were digital, some of the equipment still included old pneumatic controls which limit programming to reduce energy use.
Achieving ENERGY STAR Certification. Prior to implementation of ECMs by Ridgecrest, Metroplex Adventist had an ENERGY STAR score of 62 and was a very well maintained and operated facility. Implementation of ECMs without capital improvements or using proprietary technologies was completed by Ridgecrest within four months. Approximately 10 months after implementation began, Metroplex’s ENERGY STAR score jumped to 77, making the facility eligible (minimum 75, out of 100) for ENERGY STAR certification, and was still climbing in February with a score of 83. Metroplex is in the top 25% of hospitals nationwide for energy efficiency.
Looking Ahead. Ridgecrest assisted the facility in developing means to better manage its energy use and spend for years to come. These included:
· Setting the annual utilities budget based on projected savings
· Establishing monthly block natural gas purchases
· Developing guidelines for addressing HVAC complaints
· Creating step-by-step instructions to ensure that any problem is addressed in a manner that permanently corrects the problem while maintaining energy-efficiency objectives.
Since Ridgecrest monitors energy usage and cost beyond implementation of ECMs, they are able to identify abnormalities in usage, which can result in rectifying problems quickly.
About ENERGY STAR and the Competition. The ENERGY STAR program is jointly sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Department of Energy. ENERGY STAR began in 1992 as a voluntary labeling program designed to identify and promote energy-efficient products in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The ENERGY STAR label was extended to commercial buildings in 1995, and the labeling program for these buildings began in 1999. The Battle of the Buildings competition began in 2010 with 14 buildings participating. This year more than 3,000 buildings competed.
Ridgecrest Energy Advisors (www.ridgecrestenergy.com)