Five Energy Efficiency Project Ideas For Hospitals

Energy efficiency projects in hospitals, including energy assessments, medical equipment upgrades, building automation and control technology, solar power, and energy storage systems can help reduce energy consumption, improve patient care and lower carbon footprint.

Energy efficiency projects in hospitals offer an opportunity to reduce energy consumption and overall carbon footprint.

A 2021 study revealed that the health sector in Australia contributes 5-7% of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions each year, equivalent to 30-35 megatonnes. Furthermore, when compared to 68 other countries that were examined, Australia’s healthcare per capita emissions were among the highest, ranking third.

However, before hospital administrators can implement energy efficiency ideas, they must first develop strategies specific to their facility, as there are no one-size-fits-all solutions in the healthcare sector.

As Clean Energy Finance Corporation CEO, Ian Learmonth, states: “The healthcare sector is energy intensive given its spatial footprint and typical 24-hour operating conditions. Improving the energy performance of these properties – whether they’re hospitals, medical centres or pathology labs – is one way this sector can drive down its overall emissions output.

In this article, we will explore five energy efficiency project ideas for hospitals that can help save money and decrease carbon emissions.

Energy Efficiency Project Ideas for Hospitals

Here are some examples of energy efficiency project ideas for hospitals to save money and decrease carbon emissions.

1) Undertaking an Energy Assessment or Detailed Facility Study

An effective way to maximise every dollar spent on hospital operations and patient care is to invest in smart energy efficiency measures to reduce energy and maintenance costs. Yet understanding baseline energy consumption and identifying specific energy-saving opportunities is an important first step in the sustainability journey. This can be achieved by commissioning qualified experts to undertake an energy audit or detailed study of your facilities from an engineering and energy efficiency perspective. 

An energy audit will provide a decent overview of the energy consumption and load profile across your facility and identify various potential opportunities to improve efficiency and/or reduce emissions.

For example, the Comprehensive Energy Assessment, Audit or Study typically includes:

  • Overall energy usage by area
  • Breakdown of energy consumption by source and end-use (e.g. General power, HVAC systems, Lighting, Domestic Hot Water, Gas etc)
  • Building envelope, ventilation, airflow based on climate and environment
  • Engineering assessment of central plant and building services equipment
  • Energy efficiency ideas and opportunities
  • Cost estimates and return on investment projections

According to studies, on average, energy assessments can identify potential energy savings of 15-20% of a building’s energy use. These savings can be achieved through a combination of simple and low-cost operational changes, as well as more significant capital upgrades.

It is worth noting that energy assessment can be a worthwhile investment, as the savings identified through an assessment can often pay for the cost of the assessment itself within a relatively short period of time.

Case Study: 3E Group conducts Energy Audits for St John of God Hospitals to identify cost-saving opportunities

St John of God Hospitals in Geelong, Berwick, and Bendigo have partnered with 3E Group to conduct Type 2 Energy Audits. The audits, conducted by experienced energy auditors and sustainability engineers, are part of the hospitals’ plan to identify energy cost savings and reduce emissions in line with their environmental sustainability goals. The audits will be in accordance with AS/NZ standards and will focus on the 17,000 sqm to 27,000 sqm facilities with 160-280 beds. Read More

 


2) Optimising Medical Equipment through Energy-Efficient Upgrades

Upgrading medical equipment to the latest energy-efficient models can not only improve patient care but also lead to significant energy savings for healthcare facilities. By incorporating energy-efficient upgrades into the end-of-life replacement process, healthcare facilities can achieve cost savings and improved Return on Investment (ROI) over time.

For example, newer medical machines such as CT and MRI scanners require less energy to operate, and have features such as standby functions that turn off the equipment when not in use.

It’s worth noting that upgrading equipment is not limited to medical machines. HVAC systems, boilers, chillers, lighting, white good appliances, domestic hot water, laundry, and even the PA equipment may also need updating. The smarter the equipment, the less energy it needs to operate. A detailed energy and engineering assessment of your facilities can help identify specific opportunities and estimate the potential savings and ROI.

Case Study: Constitution Health Plaza Achieves Key Result with Energy Efficiency Solutions and Equipment Upgrades

Constitution Health Plaza, a multi-purpose medical campus, invested in energy efficiency and equipment upgrades, resulting in significant capital cost avoidance and energy savings. 3E group Inc. was engaged to provide holistic and all-encompassing solutions to improve energy efficiency as well as address maintenance repairs and replacement of ageing and end of life equipment. The project was designed to be cash flow positive, meaning that the annual costs were less than the annual savings achieved.

Key Result: Constitution Health Plaza achieved savings of 30% annually and their reduced annual operational expenses paid for the Energy as a Service Agreement. Read More.


3) Optimising Energy Performance in Hospitals through Advanced Building Automation and Control Technologies

Smart building automation and control technologies can significantly increase energy efficiency and sustainability in healthcare facilities. These technologies use a combination of sensors, software, and internet connectivity to monitor various building characteristics, analyse data, and generate insights around usage patterns and trends. These insights can then be used to optimise the building’s environment and operations.

One of the key benefits of smart building technology is the ability to monitor and control the HVAC system more effectively. For example, a traditional Building Management System (BMS) can be programmed to turn on and off the HVAC system at specific times, based on predefined temperature levels. However, smart building technology can go one step further by also measuring CO2 levels in real-time using IoT enabled sensors. This allows the system to adjust the HVAC system as needed throughout the day, reducing operating costs and increasing energy efficiency.

Another important aspect of smart building technology is the use of open-protocol Building Management Systems (BMS). This type of BMS allows for greater integration with a wider range of smart technologies and IoT-enabled devices, making it easier to optimise and future-proof the building’s technology infrastructure.

It is important to note that implementing a smart building technology infrastructure is a complex process that requires professional expertise. Before investing in a smart building technology solution, it is advisable to consult with experts in the field to review your current setup and design a scalable and future-proofed platform that is appropriate for your specific healthcare facility.

Case Study: Building Automation and Control Technologies Improve Energy Efficiency in Victorian Public Hospitals

A study on the energy efficiency of Victorian public hospitals from 2005-06 to 2013-14 found that the implementation of building automation and control technologies, such as LED lighting, lighting controls, variable-speed drives, and air-conditioning controls, contributed to a reduction in energy intensity. Over this period, energy intensity relative to floor area and bed-days decreased by 10% and 8% respectively, and energy intensity measured as energy consumption per separation decreased by more than 22%.


4) Maximising Energy Generation and Storage with On-site Solar PV Systems and Battery Storage in Hospitals

On-site solar photovoltaic (PV) systems and energy storage are a cost-effective solution for hospitals to reduce their energy consumption and carbon footprint. Hospitals have large roof areas and parking lots that can be utilised for solar PV systems, which can be installed on rooftops or as solar canopies in parking lots. The solar canopies not only generate electricity but also provide shade and shelter for parked vehicles.

Large-scale solar battery storage arrays can be paired with these solar panels to store excess energy generated during peak hours, and then use it during non-peak hours. However, before installing a solar PV system, it is important to consider factors such as the structural integrity of the roof, weather patterns, and the orientation and positioning of the panels to minimise shading.

Case Study: Ambulance Victoria to Improve Building Performance and Substantially Lower Energy Consumption

In order to reduce the impact of climate change, Ambulance Victoria set a goal to source 100% of its power from renewable sources by 2025. With help from 3E Group, a battery storage system was installed at the Sebastopol Ambulance Station to reduce and manage AV’s energy consumption and cut future green power purchases.

The 12 kWh Sonnen Battery system, chosen for its superior performance and cost-effectiveness, has a capability of 10,000 life cycles and a 20-year design life, which is double the average design life of other batteries, resulting in reduced future maintenance costs. Read More.


5) Leverage Energy Performance Contracting (EPC) for Guaranteed Energy Savings in Hospitals

Energy Performance Contracting (EPC) is a performance-based project delivery model that delivers cost-effective energy projects with minimal costs and risks to the hospital. Unlike traditional contracting, which focuses on low cost and low-quality solutions, EPCs focus on performance and delivering savings. As a result, EPCs are optimised to achieve maximum energy savings compared to traditional price-driven tenders.

EPCs also overcome barriers that affect projects related to energy efficiency by enabling the energy savings to be used to pay for the project. This is because the EPC supplier, typically an Energy Services Company (ESCO), will shoulder all the project’s risks and guarantee the savings.

Case Study: The Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District (NBMLHD) partners with 3E Group to achieve energy savings and emissions reduction through Energy Performance Contracting

The NBMLHD has engaged 3E Group (formerly Ecosave) through an Energy Performance Contract (EPC) to implement energy savings and emissions reduction measures across five hospitals, including Nepean Blue Mountains, Springwood, Lithgow, Portland, and Blue Mountains ANZAC Memorial Hospitals. The project includes the upgrade of 16,850 LED lights with new lighting controls, the installation of 1,024 kW of solar PV, and the installation of over 250 electricity, gas, and thermal energy sub-meters to enable the NBMLHD to better understand their energy usage and identify future areas for improvement. The EPC is ongoing and expected to be completed in the second half of 2023. Read More


3E Group and the Health Sector

As a leading provider of energy efficiency solutions for the healthcare sector, 3E Group has a wealth of experience and expertise in helping healthcare providers identify and implement energy cost-saving opportunities. Our team of experienced engineers and sustainability professionals are dedicated to helping our clients achieve their sustainability goals and we invite you to contact us for expert assistance with energy audits, detailed feasibility studies, and end-to-end energy efficiency solutions.

For more information on how 3E Group can help your healthcare facility become more energy efficient, please visit our website or call us at 1300 55 77 64.

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