Energy Systems and Conservation
Rochester Regional Health is committed to reducing our energy use and environmental impact through improving and optimizing our operations, developing on-site renewable energy systems, and purchasing off-site renewable energy.
Climate change is a human health issue because it both directly and indirectly leads to negative human health outcomes such as increases in heat related illnesses, the spread of vector-borne diseases, and acute afflictions caused by extreme weather events. Additionally, many of the changing climate patterns place socioeconomic stresses on areas that result in generational negative health consequences such as pervasive poverty. At Rochester Regional, we recognize that we have played a part in causing the climate related challenges we face today, and are committed to reducing the impact we have in the present and future.
In the U.S., healthcare contributes to 8% of all U.S. emissions due in part to the need to operate 24/7. To reduce our impact, Rochester Regional has formed an energy procurement and efficiency resource group to identify our long-term targets for energy conservation and renewably sourced electricity, while simultaneously implementing many energy conservation and renewable energy production projects across the system.
Energy Efficiency upgrades from 2016 and early 2017 alone have reduced our annual electric consumption by 6.2 million kWh as compared to 2015.
Energy Efficient Equipment
As customers and manufacturers are becoming more mindful of equipment energy use, efficient technology is becoming more widely available. Energy efficiency is a high priority in the selection criteria for identifying new pieces of capital equipment. In 2016 and early 2017, we completed lighting and HVAC upgrades that reduces our electricity consumption by 6.2 million kWh annually as compared to 2015, and are slated to complete projects that will reduce our electricity consumption by over 2 million more kWh by the end of 2017. Most of these upgrades come from a few a locations, and we expect similar results as we replicate best practices across the organization. Additionally, rather than purchasing completely new equipment, in many cases we are also installing devices that will reduce energy consumption on our current equipment by making them smarter. We are rolling out occupancy sensors on our vending machines that reduce their energy consumption 40-50% by turning off the machine when no one is around. In our refrigeration units, we are installing temperature control devices that more accurately measure the temperature of food, causing the cooling equipment to cycle fewer times and ultimately consume 15-30% less energy. These two simple upgrades have around a one year payback, save almost 300,000 kWh annually, and extend the lifetime of the equipment.
Energy Monitoring Metering for Energy Consumption
With over 250 locations to monitor, tracking energy use in our complex healthcare environment can be a daunting task. We implemented a comprehensive software system that automates tracking and auditing of our energy use and expenditures across all facilities. This allows us to benchmark facilities against each other, identify high potential locations for energy efficiency upgrades, and verify the success of energy reduction initiatives, all at our fingertips.
Energy Star and EPEAT Certified Products
At Rochester Regional, energy efficiency is a high priority in the selection criteria for identifying new pieces of equipment, and preference is given to equipment with ENERGY STAR and EPEAT certifications that third-party verified standards indicating energy efficient design. In order to earn the ENERGY STAR label, a product must meet high standards of energy efficiency based on testing in federally-recognized laboratories. In addition to up-front testing, a percentage of all ENERGY STAR products are subject to “off–the–shelf” verification testing each year. EPEAT, or Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool, is another third party environmental product rating that identifies high-performance electronics for IT equipment such as computer displays, tablets, and multifunction printing devices. Manufacturers register products based on the devices’ ability to strict environmental standards throughout the full life cycle of an electronic product. All lamping retrofits and the majority of IT equipment currently on site are either ENERGY STAR and/or EPEAT certified.
We are retrofitting internal and external lighting with LEDs, a technology that consumes a third of the energy and lasts three times as long as traditional lighting. This not only reduces our environmental footprint significantly, but also saves money from energy reductions and less maintenance. Projects are underway or were completed across the organization including our five acute care hospitals, several long-term care facilities, our ElderONE locations, destination campuses, our medical office buildings, outpatient surgery centers, senior housing, and many other locations. To date, we retrofitted over 17,000 lamps savings over 4.2 million kWh annually.
Opportunities for on-site solar installations are being investigated to provide power to facilities across our organization. At our headquarters, the Riedman Campus, we are currently constructing a 486 kW photovoltaic array that will produce around 550,000 kWh annually, providing power to 20 of our locations. This will offset approximately 848,000 lbs of CO2 emissions per year, and is set to be completed in July of 2017. In addition to exploring more on-site renewable energy installations, we are also considering large off-site renewable power generation as a way to reduce our environmental footprint.
Variable Speed Drivers
Rochester Regional is continually upgrading constant speed fans with smarter variable speed drives. Fans with a variable speed drive adjust output based on need, which can reduce energy consumption by as much as 60%. Small reductions in speed can give significant savings. For example, a fan running at 80% speed consumes only half of the energy compared to one running at full speed, and one-eighth of the energy when running at half speed. Furthermore, by not always running at full speed the life of the motor powering the fan can be extended years beyond that of a traditional fan.
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