Report: 50% Energy Savings Possible in Hospitals

Posted on December 27, 2010


Buildings December 2010 issue noted a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) report which demonstrates how hospitals can achieve 50% energy savings in large hospitals.  The DOE National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) demonstrated how 50-60% savings could be achieved. 

Once again, do not feel intimidated; it does not take high technology and big dollars to do this (many can be retrofit), with sensors, system integration and increased efficiency as the majority of the key tactics.  Most of these can be done incrementally and independently.

Some of the tactics include:

  • reduced lighting power densities
  • occupancy and light sensors
  • more insulated and tighter envelope construction
  • south facing overhangs
  • multi-zone, dedicated outdoor air system
  • high-efficiency equipment (chillers, boilers, water heaters, water-to-air pumps)
  • demand-controlled ventilation
  • subsystem integration

I would add to this list a commissioning exercise.  Spending money on complex systems without anything to compare and measure against is futile.

Buildings also beat the integration drum, which is a ‘no brainer’ activity for those of us who practice this.  It simply does not make sense to treat a symptom as an isolated problem. 

For instance, lights are not just lights. The lights affect the amps, power service, supply and distribution.  Lights affect the HVAC load and the HVAC load affects the system components’ size, cost, maintenance, monthly expenses, and life cycle. By simply ‘right-sizing’ the candlepower in a facility, a positive ripple effect will lighten the energy load for other, seemingly unrelated system elements.

For details behind the model hospital and study are available from the NREL , click here.