HMH expecting $500,000 annual energy savings

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Completed project to save money, reduce impact on environment

By Marty Finley

A $3.4 million energy conservation plan targeting several key systems at Hardin Memorial Hospital is expected to reap up to $500,000 in annual energy savings and another $62,000 in operational savings, according to officials.

The 17-month project recently was completed by Harshaw Trane, which focused on efforts to optimize the hospital’s boiler, chiller, air handling and lighting systems by replacing outdated equipment, optimizing piping and parts and linking the hospital’s energy output systems to an electronic interface that can monitor energy usage, said Ty Vierling, an energy services business leader with Harshaw Trane.

This, in turn, can notify the hospital if energy is spiking and allow the hospital to control temperature levels automatically by computer through a building automation system, thus keeping the hospital more comfortable for patients and families, he said.

“The annual environmental impact of the energy reductions are equal to 84,666 barrels of oil not burned for one year or 2,984 acres of forest preserved from deforestation,” stated a Harshaw Trane news release.

The conservation plan was proposed after HMH officials learned the facility’s energy imprint far exceeds an average hospital, which typically uses 250 million British thermal units per square feet. HMH averages 362 million Btu per square feet, according to the Harshaw Trane analysis. In contrast, Energy Star hospitals in Kentucky only emit 200 million Btu per square feet.

“We were really energy hogs,” said Ken Richardson, director of facilities management for HMH.

Harshaw Trane officials has said the upgrades should scale the hospital’s usage back to around 270 million Btu per square feet, which still is higher than the average hospital but closer to the ideal goal.

The health system expends around $2 million annually on energy costs across its network, Richardson said, and the project should have a return on investment of six years or less.

“The project had positive cash flow from year one,” Vierling said.

Vierling said the improvements have produced more efficient and user friendly boilers and the improvements to the chiller and air handling units have created a more streamlined system. The company also replaced the bulk of the lights in the hospital with energy-efficient bulbs and worked with the hospital and Elizabethtown Water & Gas to consolidate some metering and billing, Vierling said.

Steve Duff, project manager, said there was about 10 months of continuous construction during the project, but it never interfered with the hospital’s daily business or put patients in harm’s way.

Richardson said the hospital needed to replace a failing chiller as part of the project and put in another pump tied to its chilled water and air conditioning systems, which provides additional redundancy if one of the pumps goes down for maintenance. Otherwise, he said, HMH could have been in danger of having to evacuate if a pump went down. Multi-stack heat recovery units installed will capture excess heat that would have been “exhausted into the wind” in the past.

“We were facing multiple challenges of obsolete equipment, capacity, and emergency needs that needed to be addressed quickly,” Richardson said in a statement. “Working with Harshaw Trane improved the environmental quality for our patients, increased reliability, had a significant financial impact, and it allowed for a great partnership development.”

Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762 or mfinley@thenewsenterprise.com