Sutter Delta Medical Center Has the Energy to Care

Posted on Sep 5, 2017

By their very nature hospitals are energy-intensive facilities. Read how one hospital sought to change that.

Hospitals consume more energy per square foot than any other type of commercial building outside of the food and beverage industry. It’s easy to see why: hospitals operate around the clock, using complex medical equipment that is critical to patient care.

“What most people forget is that we also refrigerate and sterilize supplies, maintain a full cafeteria and patient food service and run computers night and day,” said Tim Bouslog, Facilities and Guest Services Director for Sutter Delta Medical Center. “With these demands it’s understandable that the utilities – gas, electric and water – add up.”

So what would it take for a hospital to trim their energy use by just 5 percent? Install energy-efficient light bulbs? Reduce air conditioning in unoccupied areas? Plant more trees for shade?

Yes and no. Yes, because those strategies work on a small scale. No, because they alone won’t lead to even a 1 percent change across an entire hospital campus. By comparison, Sutter Delta Medical Center has trimmed their energy use by 17 percent since 2014 and recently received the Energy to Care award. Conferred by the American Society for Healthcare Engineering, this award acknowledges healthcare facilities that reduce energy consumption by 10 percent or greater.

The story of this success unfolds below.

Less than One Engineer to every 150 Employees

“Our first goal was to improve existing operations by partnering with Wayne Baber from Sutter Health’s Energy Management Division,” Bouslog said. Focusing on maintenance and tune-up of the building’s air conditioning and electrical systems provided the foundation of the multi-year improvement plan – a foundation which Bouslog refers to simply as “working with what you’ve got.”

The second goal was to engage employees to be part of the solution. “We have six engineers supporting a hospital with 950 employees; we needed everyone to join us on this journey,” said Bouslog. Staff commitment was a direct result of Sutter Delta’s culture, where people are empowered to perform their best. “We started a daily walk-through of the facility, asking questions and logging data.” On these walks Bouslog and others would share strategies that each person could do to make a difference; resulting in an accidental army of energy defenders.

The third goal was to implement operational standards across the campus. Delta’s highly trained engineering team, led by Chief Engineer Mark Gonzales, focused on space temperature set points, HVAC equipment scheduling, air handling unit optimization and chilled and hot water system optimization.

By improving its efficiency, Sutter Delta Medical Center has taken pressure off of the energy grid and served as an example to the community.

“I applaud Tim and all of our hardworking Engineering Team for the work they’ve done to curtail our energy consumption,” Dori Stevens, Sutter Delta Medical Center CEO said. “A well-run hospital is more comfortable to patients, less costly to operate, and helps protect our public health and the environment.”

The Energy To Care Award shows Delta’s commitment to reducing waste, optimizing performance and trimming operational cost – money that can be put back into patient care.

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