Improving Energy Efficiency in Older Buildings

JMoyerBy Jerry Moyer

As energy costs rise and fossil fuel reserves dwindle, improving the energy efficiency in older buildings is more important than ever. Built in 1918, Mercy Philadelphia Hospital (MPH) is a 613,550 sq. ft. acute care, community hospital located in West Philadelphia, PA.  MPH is at the forefront of energy conservation in the Philadelphia area, with its 96-year-old building improving its energy performance by making cost-effective improvements that resulted in utilization of 35 percent less energy and generating 35 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than similar buildings across the nation.

Recognizing the need to continue to look for more ways to become energy efficient in difficult economic times, the hospital conducted an assessment of the entire building in 2007. After reviewing the assessment results, we developed and implemented a plan to reduce energy usage, which earned the hospital an ENERGY STAR rating of 90, the highest energy efficiency rating among hospitals statewide.  Facility Directors everywhere should become an ENERGY STAR partner as they offer support to businesses and individuals, helping them save money and protect our climate through superior energy efficiency.

MPH was able to earn the prestigious ENERGY STAR status because of its commitment to reducing energy costs. One of the hospital’s priorities was to establish an “Energy Conservation Team” made up of facility personnel utilizing the phrase “Turn It Off, Turn It Off, Turn It Off.” The team’s goal is to look for everyday ways to reduce energy usage. The hospital’s Energy Conservation Team purchased green t-shirts with the slogan “Turn It Off” on the back. These are worn every Friday to remind colleagues to look for ways to reduce and/or save energy.

“Turn It Off” signage was placed throughout the facility as a daily reminder to employees. Every Saturday and Sunday one team member makes rounds throughout the hospital to check and see if any utilities have been left on. If lights and/or air conditioners are left on, the team member turns them off and a letter is placed in the location to remind the colleague to “Turn It Off.” Findings are shared at the department’s monthly meetings and email reminders are sent out to departments.

Replacing equipment with newer, more efficient models, programming fans throughout the building to shut down at various times, and controlling night time set backs and set points in all occupied and unoccupied areas of the facility are just a few ways to conserve energy.

Here are some other helpful tips to reduce energy usage:

·         Have a qualified service mechanic go over your HVAC system by cleaning and making adjustments to it. This will allow it to run at peak performance.

·         When purchasing new equipment, look for Energy Star products.

·         Install programmable thermostats.

·         Use energy saving lights by replacing T-12 lamps with electronic ballasts and T-8 or LED lamps.

·         Get rid of your water-cooled unit ice machine as they just waste water and energy.

·         Replace drafty windows with more energy efficient windows.

·         Last but not least, TURN IT OFF, TURN IT OFF, TURN IT OFF – when you’re not using equipment, lights, etc. turn it off!

MPH continues to look for ways to become a more efficient user of the earth’s scarce resources. Improving the energy efficiency of our nation’s buildings is critical to protecting our environment and I encourage you to make a commitment to environmental stewardship. Minimize your impact on the environment through an increased focus on energy conservation, especially in older, non-energy efficient buildings. ###

Jerry Moyer is Director of Facilities at Mercy Philadelphia Hospital. He can be reached at jmoyer@mercyhealth.org

 

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