Left to right are Johnson Controls Account Executive Preston Blair, Tim Prokopetz, Roger Walker, Bryan Bennetts and Gerry Laforest, Union Gas Commercial and Industrial Account Manager.
Timmins and District Hospital saw its energy bill trimmed by $530,000 in the first full year following the completion of an ambitious energy retrofit project that included new lighting, building controls and the installation of a high efficiency boiler plant for heating and hot water.
“We set a target of $400,000 in annual savings, but we surpassed that,” said Timmins and District Hospital president and CEO Roger Walker.
Improved energy efficiency does more than impact the bottom line. According to Walker, it also frees up resources that can be spent more directly on patient care and enhances the hospital’s brand as a clean, green, environmentally respectful organization.
“One of the big areas was lighting,” said Tim Prokopetz, the hospital’s manager of materials and biomedical engineering. “Prior to the retrofit, all of our lights had a double ballast, so there were two lights in each unit. We changed the lighting type, as well as the ballast type, and reduced the number of fluorescent bulbs from 8,000 to 4,000.”
The more energy-efficient T-1 bulbs produce the same amount of light as before and are programmed through the building control system to turn on or off at different times of the day based on occupancy.
“Normally, for the month of July alone, we would have used 1.2 million kilowatt hours of electricity,” said Walker. “Our target was to decrease electricity use by 20 per cent, which would have brought it down to one million kilowatt hours, but we managed to bring it down to 900,000 kilowatt hours, a saving of 25 per cent.”
Natural gas consumption has been trimmed by approximately the same percentage thanks to the installation of a new, energy-efficient boiler plant.
“Our old boiler was 17 or 18 years old and was costing us $30,000 a year just to maintain, so we invested close to $1.5 million in a new steam and hot water boiler system,” said Prokopetz.
The hospital’s automated building control system turns down thermostats to 17 or 18 degrees in office areas and meeting rooms at night, resulting in further savings.
“That wasn’t the case before,” said Prokopetz. “Someone would have had to go in and adjust the thermostats manually. Now, it’s all centrally controlled and programmed.”
The building control system also impacts on patient comfort, allowing hospital staff to adjust room temperatures to suit individual patients.
The hospital used deficit financing to fund the $5.6 million retrofit and received guarantees from vendors on the savings it could expect.
Union Gas, the hospital’s natural gas supplier, provided TDH with an incentive rebate of $172,150 through its EnerSmart program to assist with the cost of the new boiler plant.
“Boiler technology has improved a lot,” said Gerald Laforest, a commercial/industrial account manager with Union Gas. “Boilers used to be 70 per cent efficient. Now, they’re over 90 per cent efficient, so it’s a clear win for anyone investing in these technologies.”
The new boiler will reduce the hospital’s natural gas consumption by almost 750,000 cubic metres a year, or the equivalent of heating 300 homes in the Timmins area each year.
As a result of the savings, the hospital’s bill for natural gas this year is the same as it was in 2003.
Conservation efforts by its customers frees Union Gas from having to upgrade its infrastructure to keep up with increased gas consumption and makes the utility part of the global solution as opposed to being part of the problem, said Laforest.
Timmins and District Hospital has also played a key role in encouraging the 12 smaller hospitals in its catchment area to embark on energy conservation initiatives. The hospital received a $50,000 grant from the Ontario Power Authority to establish the Network 13 Energy Co-operative in 2008 and won the Ontario Hospital Association’s annual award for energy efficiency the following year.
Energy audits have been completed at all participating hospitals and Union Gas has assisted several of them with rebate incentives.
According to Prokopetz, several smaller hospitals have even submitted applications to the Ontario Power Authority for solar energy projects under the province’s Feed-in-Tariff program. With a promised payout of 71 cents per kilowatt-hour, Prokopetz estimates that a one million dollar investment in solar energy would generate $2 million in profits over a 20-year period.
“It would be a huge revenue source for them,” but the program may prove to be too lucrative to survive, he cautioned.