It’s no secret that hospitals and other health care facilities cannot afford to lose power, so keeping the lights on has long been regarded as more important than reducing the utility bill. For years, the two were viewed as mutually exclusive, but as energy costs continue to rise, many facilities are trying to save lives and money at the same time.
In a recent article published by Energy Manager Today, a principal research analyst for Navigant Research indicates energy efficiency is still a secondary concern among health care administrators, but notes more hospitals are adopting and implementing strategic energy management policies. As they should — health care facilities consume a tremendous amount of energy, up to 2.5 times more than a commercial building of the same size.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, every dollar saved on energy is equivalent to a $10 increase in revenue for medical office buildings and a $20 increase in revenue for hospitals. But, actually finding ways to reduce energy use can be difficult in facilities that operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Most hospital energy efficiency upgrades include some combination of the following: replacement of light fixtures and/or windows; upgrading HVAC units and heating boilers; insulating building envelopes; installing new automation controls; and reducing inefficiencies in laundry and waste management.
By making these changes, hospitals can experience significant savings. The article highlights two facilities, each having reduced their energy consumption by more than 25% by making various upgrades. While those savings are impressive, there’s a piece of the puzzle that often gets overlooked when it comes to cutting energy costs.
A facility’s emergency power infrastructure not only addresses the primary concern of keeping the power flowing in the event of a utility outage or disturbance, but can also have a significant impact on energy use. The energy efficiency of critical power protection equipment — more specifically, the uninterruptible power supply (UPS) — can vary from product to product. Because almost every kilowatt of power that goes into a hospital goes through the UPS, even a one percent difference in energy efficiency can save a facility tens of thousands, or in some cases millions, of dollars over the lifespan of the UPS system.
This is especially true if the renovation project also includes the replacement of diagnostic equipment, such as MRI, CT, and X-ray machines. If these units are being replaced by more efficient units, it only makes sense to also consider replacing the backup power protection systems that keep them operational at all times.
Replacing your UPS system during a retrofit with a more efficient one ensures that the power stays on and reduces energy consumption, eliminating two of the facility manager’s concerns at once.