Across the country more than 3,200 buildings have earned the Energy Star for significant cuts in energy consumption. The Environmental Protection Agency program not only awards the Energy Star designation annually, it offer’s tools and guidelines to help building owners and managers realize energy savings. Houston Public Radio’s Rod Rice reports there is only one hospital in the country that has won four consecutive Energy Stars.
The hospital is the Shriners Hospital for Children in Houston. Delbert Reed, the Shriner’s Director of Engineering and Maintenance says a serious energy saving effort began about nine years and so far has saved about a million dollars in energy costs. And he says it was done without spending a lot of money.
“In the last eight years we’ve probably spent about $200,000 total.”
Reed says the hardest part of the energy saving process was simply to begin to do it. He says the biggest changes were operational.
“Keeping you air conditioning, your coils clean; scheduling your air handlers on and off; scheduling lighting on and off; putting occupancy sensors in occupied areas; upgrading lighting to a more efficient lighting, so just a lot of small things that have added up to substantial savings.”
Hospital Administrator Steven Reiter givers full credit to Delbert Reed for beginning the energy saving effort. Reiter says that while Shriner’s Children’s Hospital, because of its size, may be able to adapt to change easier than a larger operation, it can still take time to get everyone onboard, but when they are the savings are significant.
“And I’ll give you an example. Turning off you computer, your CRT saved us an estimated cost of $7,000, but it took us a year and half to make that a habit of all employees. What Delbert has proved is that every single small initiative adds up.”
That $7,000 savings is annual.
Another annual savings takes place in the laundry where for seven years the heat from the steam press and the air conditioning capacity cancelled each other out. Add heat from lighting and washers and driers and the room was a hot place to work. Helen Smith needed fan that only blew hot air on to her.
“We came in and put a plot controlled operating valve on and a mechanical timer, which is just under the table, so she can turn it on for two hour increments. Within three to five minutes the table is up to temperature and ready to use. When she’s finished, turn it off and all of a sudden she reduces her heat load. The day after we did it Helen called me and said I really apologize but can you come adjust the temperature because I’m cold.”
Reed says Helen Smith was comfortable and the savings total about $8,000 a year. The cost to do both was about $85 for the equipment and a couple hours of labor.
Reed says saving energy becomes like a game and you are always trying to see what you can do next to save more. Shriners Childrens Hospital in Houston is about to get it’s fifth consecutive Energy Star but for Reed and Administrator Steven Reiter saving energy is only part of the benefit.
“As Delbert said we render, completely free of charge pediatric orthopedic health care services. The million dollars that Delbert has saved in energy costs has allowed us to provide a greater depth and breadth of services to our patients and I think that’s the key thing.”