A study conducted by a research team at the University of Washington, titled Targeting 100!, identifies a process for newly constructed hospitals that integrates architectural, mechanical and central plant systems to reduce energy consumption by an average of 62 percent.
The biggest breakthrough comes from addressing the reheating of centrally-cooled air, which is the largest contributor to wasted energy in a hospital, representing more than 40 percent of annual heating energy usage. By combining energy-reduction design solutions – including sun and daylight shading controls, vacant room sensors, outdoor air supply with heat recovery systems, modified air delivery systems, thermal energy storage, and improved air-tightness and high insulation values in windows and walls – a newly constructed, code-compliant hospital in the range of Targeting 100! saves between $500,000 and $800,000 a year in energy costs.
Hospitals looking to capitalize on AHA incentives to upgrade their current facilities may also improve energy performance by using similar strategies during renovations.
The study looked at six distinct and diverse climate zones in the United States’ most populous regions – including New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Phoenix and Seattle – to determine if integrated design methods could cut energy consumption and operating costs for hospitals nationwide. The team conducted a complete reassessment of the architectural systems, building mechanical systems and central plant systems to find a code-compliant path that achieves the highest-quality, lowest-energy hospital design for the least additional capital cost.
The resulting integrated-design approach delivers a 62 percent average reduction in energy consumption across all climate zones, and a 9 percent year-over-year average return on investment. Depending on the climate zone, local construction and utility costs, and design scheme, hospitals can see up to a 51 percent return on investment.
The Target 100! Research was supported by the Department of Energy and the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance. The research also included intensive peer review by engineers, general contractors, utilities, hospital CEOs and facilities managers.
Hospitals are notorious energy hogs. Because they operate 24/7 and must follow strict lighting, air circulation and heating codes, they eat up 2.5 times the energy as a commercial building of the same size. A typical hospital’s energy bill runs $1-3 million a year depending on its size and location. However, energy represents just one or two percent of a hospital’s operating costs, so sometimes does not get the attention of top administrators, according to the research report.