How to Identify Energy Losses in a Medical Building

February 1, 2017 By Mid-Atlantic Controls 4 minute read

Does your hospital have energy problems? Is your medical facility losing energy, but you can’t pinpoint why? Energy loss is a common problem with large structures and institutions that have several buildings. What are some of the causes of these losses?

  • Hospitals use a greater amount of energy on a per-building basis than any other institution.
  • The industry spends a whopping $8.8 billion on energy loss per year.
  • Hospitals can reduce energy use by 30% or more by taking energy-efficient steps.

Around-the-Clock Operation

Hospitals run at peak performance 24 hours per day, 365 days per year, which is one of the primary causes for such great energy loss. Often HVAC, lights, etc. stay on constantly, even when they're not needed.

Structural Losses Inherent in Large Buildings

When you think of energy consumption in a hospital facility, what comes to mind? For most, it's large-scale structural losses. When it’s hot outside, the sheer number and size of rooms that must be air conditioned leads to a huge energy outlay. When it’s cold outside, the same can be said of the need for heating. If the HVAC and environmental management systems aren't maintained regularly and upgraded as needed, energy costs can soar.

Large rooms and long, vacuous corridors require proper ventilation, filtration, heating and cooling and tend to increase the overall energy being used throughout a building. Stairwells and shafts may be unnecessarily ventilated, filtered, heated and cooled. Most rooms and corridors have long-burning lights and other appliances that operate even when no one is there or when they’re not needed.

Basic structural damage can be a source of energy loss as well. Walls, ceilings, doors and windows begin to grow damaged over time and need to be repaired. Chipped and/or broken glass panes, poorly closing/slowly closing doors, and other places wear-and-tear are sources of energy loss.

Poor Construction

How soundly are the buildings in your medical facility constructed? A poorly constructed edifice makes for a drafty building. Air-conditioned and/or heated air can leak out, which increases the costs. By the same token, cold air in winter and heat in summer can seep into your building, increasing energy losses.

Energy Losses in your HVAC System

What is the condition of your HVAC system? Are there tears or leaks in the system, or is the equipment faulty? Tears and leaks in your heating and cooling system can lead to a tremendous amount of energy loss.

Old HVAC Systems Can Be a Source of Energy Loss

Air conditioners and heat pumps that are more than 10 years old, and furnaces that have been in use for over 15 years are well-known culprits of energy loss. They can waste up to 20% more energy than new units.

Old insulation and non-insulated structures are another source of energy loss. Does your hospital use oil for heating? Constant gas consumption is yet another source of energy consumption, and an expensive one at that.

“Non-Environmentally-Progressive" Buildings

The latest trend is going green. Although this is the environmentally responsible route to take, it is also the most cost-efficient route to take in the long term. Are the faucets in your hospital facility user-controlled or automatic? Of the automatic faucets, do they shutdown automatically after a period of time? Automatic shutdown is still more wasteful than motion-sensor faucets.

Are the toilets in your facility high-volume or low-flow? Are the lights controlled by manual switches or motion sensors? Are your lights florescent or LED? Lights that burn when no one is around or when it’s daylight can increase lighting expenses by 10 to 40%.

Equipment Losses

The machines and appliances necessary for the proper functioning of a hospital are high-energy consumers. These machines often run constantly and may take large amounts of electricity. Sterilization equipment and appliances take up energy, and the sterilization of various implements, clothing, cloths, etc. demands large amounts of steam, which adds to a hospital facility's overall energy losses.

Reducing Energy Loss is Possible

It is possible to reduce your hospital's energy loss by taking a thorough inventory of the highest areas of loss, creating a plan for reducing the losses and implementing this plan. In order to do this, your best option is to rely upon the expertise of a quality building automation system (BAS) company.

For hospitals with an aging BAS system, it may be possible to make a legacy BAS upgrade at your hospital facility. A legacy BAS upgrade allows your hospital to keep much of the old BAS system and simply make upgrades and/or replace the parts that need improvements without replacing everything. A legacy upgrade can often prove to be a more economical and cost effective BAS option.

Lessen Your Energy Consumption in a Medical Building

Mid-Atlantic Controls specializes in open-platform BAS solutions. As an open-platform company, we're able to make an analysis of an institution’s energy losses and then offer the most appropriate and affordable solutions available on the market. This route allows you, the customer, to stay in the driver’s seat.

Are you ready to eliminate many of the causes of energy loss in your facility? Contact us to learn more about BAS solutions for medical buildings and hospital facilities.

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