NYC Hospitals Reduce Energy Use by 10 Percent

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Photo: Anthony Quintanos

New York City is a very big place. It follows that its hospital system is equally oversized. Getting it to do anything as a group is a challenging task of organization, financing and execution.

At the same time, the city’s facilities have a mandate to save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. NYC Health + Hospitals – which represents facilities of all types from the southern Staten Island all the way up to the northern tip of The Bronx – is making a mark. The system consists of 11 acute care hospitals, six diagnostic and treatment centers, four long-term care facilities, a certified home health care agency and more than 80 community health clinics, according to the city.

The organization reports that it has reduced energy use by 10 percent during its 2016 fiscal year. That, coupled with fuel cost reductions, led to savings of $21 million. The organization says that greenhouse gas emissions are down by 24.14 percent between 2007 and 2016 and the organization is on track to fulfill its goal of reducing them by half by 2025 based in a 2007 baseline.

Creating energy efficiency and GHG reductions at such a large and diverse group of buildings essentially is a never ending task. Cyril Toussaint, NYC Health + Hospitals’ Facilities Director for Planning and Development, told Energy Manager Today work at three facilities has been completed during the past three years. Projects are ongoing at nine others.

The nature of the work, of course, varies. It can LED retrofits and other fairly easily realized “low-hanging fruit” type initiatives. It also could extend to fundamental and deep changes to structures.

An example of the latter is a $9 million cogeneration project at the Kings County (Brooklyn) Hospital. That project, according to Toussaint, is in part a pilot that will help determine if it is a technology with a future on Broadway (and beyond). He said that preliminary steps toward creating microgrids at two Brooklyn facilities are ongoing, in part for the same exploratory purposes.

One of the most important challenges for energy management in the massive and highly decentralized system is, simply, how to determine what to do and when to do it. Some structure is provided by New York City’s Local Law 87, which requires structures of more than 50,000 square feet to be audited every ten years. That is, to say the least, a lot of auditing for NYC Health + Hospitals. “Overall, we are looking at more than 21 million square feet spread across the five boroughs,” Toussaint said.

The audits take six months to a year, depending on the size of the facility. They are a valuable way to begin the process of prioritization. NYC Health + Hospitals must get signoff and funding from other agencies. Project management and construction services are provided by the the New York Power Authority.

There are several types of projects that are common. Transitioning to LEDs is a low cost/high gain endeavor. Solar panels will be installed in as many as six city facilities next year. Toussaint said that air handling units are being refurbished and upgraded at several of the facilities. A third common project is replacement of boilers. The city is mandating the phase out of boilers that use viscous number 6 fuel oil. Those units are being replaced by boilers that can be powered by number 2 fuel oil or natural gas.

A common project is steam trap replacement. “That is another major program,” Toussaint said. “We are seeing significant returns. We lose a lot of steam and energy through defective steam traps. We have embarked on replacing all the defective ones with high pressure steam traps.”

NYC Health + Hospitals is a huge organization serving a huge city. That means two things: A lot of gains can be made and a methodical approach is necessary. The results suggest that progress is being made in the right direction.

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