How hospitals can reduce their energy bills

Unlike other commercial and industrial buildings, hospitals operate 24 hours a day seven days a week, which means they can use up to 2.5 times more energy than a commercial building of the same size. Hospitals also have unique energy requirements as they often have to follow lighting, air circulation and heating codes in order to ensure the health and safety of patients and staff.

A large portion of this energy consumption goes towards maintaining air temperature and cleanliness and it is said that the reheating of centrally cooled air represents more than 40% of hospitals energy usage and is also the largest contributor to wasted energy in a hospital. In addition to this, proper ventilation is especially important in hospitals as it is required to provide high air change rates that help eliminate airborne bacteria. It also works to mitigate the heat gains from lighting, staff, patients and specialist equipment. It is now estimated that in modern hospitals, ventilation can account for more than 30% of total site energy consumption.

The main contributors to hospitals energy consumption include:

  • Heating and hot water
  • Ventilation and air conditioning
  • Lighting
  • Office and small power equipment
  • Catering
  • Specialist equipment
  • Building fabric

The combined electricity needs of a hospital can account for over 50% of a hospital’s energy costs. As technology evolves and the use of specialist medical equipment increases, which relies on electricity, the energy consumption in hospitals is set to grow steadily.

Energy consumption is a growing concern to hospitals not only due to the costs involved but also because of the impact it is having on the environment. In order to be responsible global citizens, it is important that all industries play their part in reducing energy consumption or switching to more sustainable energy solutions. As the Carbon Trust says; “Improving energy efficiency in healthcare is about making the most of the energy that is used – without compromising the comfort of patients and staff.”

How Maximpact helps hospitals become energy efficient

At Maximpact we have qualified Energy Efficiency experts who will work with hospitals to assess their energy requirements and potential for energy savings. Our services include energy audits, energy efficiency action plans, new equipment purchasing advisory, thermal energy studies, gap analysis, training and advice on renewable energy systems.

The first step in the process is to conduct an energy audit on the entire hospital’s facility and equipment. This includes all heating, cooling and lighting systems. We do this by integrating data mining tools and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies into audits and implementation. Our AI technologies help to identify how energy consumption can be optimised to reduce energy costs, waste and carbon emissions of facilities.

The audit will show you how you are consuming energy and what actions can be taken to optimise energy consumption. Once we have this information, we can then identify the best energy efficiency strategy for your hospital. By adding Artificial Intelligence into our solutions, we help you control and manage your energy requirements more efficiently over the longer term.

The completed energy audit report will provide you with detailed results and outline the savings potential in your hospital which is typically between 20% and 40% of your existing energy bills.

“Our comprehensive energy audits identify potential energy savings of between 20% and 40% for hospitals.” – Maximpact

The application of AI creates intelligent buildings that learn continuously and optimise energy usage by themselves. This results in a learning curve which allows the AI systems to continuously improve complex processes by organising and analysing large amounts of data on your energy consumption habits. The AI systems will learn and optimise energy consumption and energy sources for you as well as signal (and in some cases repair automatically) any bottlenecks and prevent system breakdowns. Being able to forecast energy breakdowns not only saves on repair costs but may save peoples’ lives. Integrated AI solutions then become your automated hospital energy management system.

Reducing energy consumption by 35% at Tallaght University Hospital Dublin

One of the largest hospitals in Ireland, Tallaght University Hospital in Dublin treats over 410 000 patients per year and employs almost 3 000 staff. The hospital wanted to improve its energy efficiency and commissioned a Maximpact Energy Expert to undertake a comprehensive energy audit.

As with all hospitals the Tallaght University Hospital had to have heating and cooling via ventilation systems all year round. Added to this are the electrical needs for hospital equipment as well as the hospital lighting system which accounted for 20% of the hospital’s energy usage. To satisfy these energy demands there were a range of mechanical and electrical systems installed in the hospital.

The Tallaght University Hospital was not initially designed with energy efficiency as a priority, but some energy-related features had been incorporated into the building. These included an extensive Building Management System (BMS) which monitored and controlled the large heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems as well as the associated boilers and chillers.

The comprehensive energy audit completed by Maximpact examined the operation of all the energy systems within the hospital. Once completed, recommendations were given to improve each system’s energy efficiency and provide better controls to avoid energy wastage.

The energy audit identified the following areas for improvement;

  • Improvements to the control of the combustion efficiency and temperature levels associated with space heating and hot water which produced considerable savings in the operation of hot water boilers.
  • It was identified that with minimum investment improvements could be made to the controls of the HVAC system and chiller plant.
  • It was identified that improvements to the lighting systems could be made by retrofitting the system which would enable better controls to be in place.

In addition to these improvements the energy audit also found that there was potential for installing a combined heat and power system. Added to this a feasibility study for solar thermal hot water generation was conducted.

In total the energy audit conducted by the Maximpact Energy Expert found that energy savings of over 35% was possible at the Tallaght University Hospital and that the cost of upgrades and improvements would pay for itself in less than three and half years.

Saving energy, saving the planet

Ultimately reducing your energy consumption not only reduces energy costs, saving the hospital money, but the reduction in energy consumption is also good for the planet as it cuts down on carbon emissions. As global warming becomes a growing concern for all countries, energy saving is going to become a higher priority. Already we are seeing policies being put in place such as the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) Energy Efficiency Scheme, EU Emissions Trading Scheme and other climate change agreements which will most likely put pressure on governments and industries to reduce their energy consumption. Carbon tax and energy tariffs are likely to become a reality in the future so the more hospitals can do now to reduce their energy consumption the more benefits they will see. Having a proactive approach to energy saving will prove to be beneficial to everyone’s future.

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