Keeping patients, families and staff cool for less At Hackensack University Medical Center, patient care comes first – but operational efficiency and environmental impact are also among its priorities. In the Central Plant Operations alone, the medical center has achieved savings of more than $700,000 through smart management, including more than $400,000 through continuous energy oversight of the chiller plant.
HackensackUMC, a nonprofit teaching and research hospital located in Bergen County, N.J., is the largest provider of inpatient and outpatient services in the state. This 775-bed medical center offers comprehensive care at its facilities, including the Heart & Vascular Hospital, the John Theurer Cancer Center, the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital and the Donna A. Sanzari Women’s Hospital.
Over the years, HackensackUMC’s initiatives to improve patient care have earned many honors, including The Joint Commission 17 Gold Seals of Approval™; it was named one of HealthGrades® America’s 50 Best Hospitals for six years in a row (2007-2012); and it was cited as one of U.S. News & World Report’s 2011-12 Best Hospitals (National) for Cancer, Cardiology & Heart Surgery and Geriatrics. U.S. News & World Report also named The Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital at HackensackUMC to its Best Children’s Hospital List in Neurology and Neurosurgery.
HackensackUMC has taken steps to continually improve operational efficiency and reduce environmental impact. In February, the medical center signed a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reduce energy consumption by at least 10 percent and become an EPA Energy Star partner, reduce the use of plastics, reduce and recycle solid waste, complete a 7,000-square-foot “green roof” to reduce stormwater run-off, reduce air pollution from its vehicles, and use nontoxic cleaning products.
As part of the hospital’s efforts to reduce energy consumption at least 10 percent, plant operations is improving energy efficiency in its district cooling system and central boiler plant.
The central district cooling system is made up of four central chilled water plants, which provide 8,000 tons of cooling to multiple critical facilities. The multifuel central utility plant consists of Carrier electric centrifugal chillers and a 1,600-ton York steam turbine. The 3,000-hp central boiler plant generates a maximum of approximately 51,000 pounds per hour of steam for the medical center’s facilities.
With other efficiencies planned for the future, including upgrades to the boiler plant with new equipment and optimization of its operations, the plant operations department still wanted to look into additional steps to reduce the medical center’s $2.2 million chiller plant operating costs.
With the goal of reducing the cost of operating the multi-fuel central chilled water plant, the medical center’s engineer and plant operations supervisor looked for an opportunity to work with an energy advisory firm with expertise in analyzing utility rates and experience operating energy plant and metering systems. The answer was utiliVisor Energy Plant Services, which provides energy efficiency services through oversight of energy systems for health care and other mission-critical facilities. The company implemented a “real-time” web-based metering and monitoring system in the plant and used it to oversee, analyze and report on the facility’s HVAC systems and utility management.
The engineering team reviewed HackensackUMC’s chiller plant operation to identify inefficiencies and projected that the medical center would save $400,000 per year by improving chiller part-load performance, correcting condenser water and chilled water flows, monitoring and optimizing the hydraulic bypass, tuning the control loop, and improving chiller sequencing.
The proposal included managing a team from Siemens Building Technologies to upgrade the medical center’s existing building control system with additional chiller performance data from the Carrier and York chillers; and install ultrasonic flowmeters to the chilled water, condenser water, steam condensate and the main chilled water bypass valve.
HackensackUMC’s investment totaled $434,093 for hardware, software and the first year of monitoring. Before the medical center made a decision, the plant operations supervisor visited chiller plant operations at another major medical center in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area with a similar chiller plant to talk with them about their experience and was impressed with their results.
HackensackUMC went ahead with the program. In addition to over $400,000 in savings per year, the relationship with the energy oversight provider has exceeded expectations. Based on continuous monitoring of the medical center’s chiller plant operations, their engineering team emails or calls the medical center’s operators and supervisor to recommend operational adjustments to reduce energy costs. For example, an analysis was performed recently that determined a better sequencing of chillers to match the outside air conditions and meet the hospitals required load. This step alone is saving HackensackUMC approximately $3,000 per day of operating costs.
That is just one example out of many. The operating data tracking actual chiller performance is also used to compare design performance to demand operating improvements from our equipment-servicing vendors.
The health care industry is under increasing pressure to find ways to improve patient care while managing costs, and HackensackUMC is no exception. So keeping patients, families and staff cool for less makes good economic sense.
John Nesbitt is the Infrastructure Supervisor of Plant Operations for Hackensack University Medical Center, Hackensack, N.J.