Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre is a 375-bed acute care hospital, with a bustling regional emergency room, as well as academic and research facilities. It provides a full-service cancer centre, a busy diagnostics department and full operating room capacity. The hospital was designed to run 24/7 and many lights and heating/air conditioning (HVAC) systems run continuously, even when not required.
And that was part of the facility’s problem. According to Anne-Marie Heron, Executive Director of Planning and Operations, certain zones were getting too much airflow, especially at night. With input from local hydro company Thunder Bay Hydro, Heron’s team decided that if areas were unoccupied then the air handlers would be cut back. The energy savings were immediate.
Next up were constant volume air systems that Heron and her team converted to variable air-volume systems. The systems were upgraded to reflect the actual demands of the building rather than pump air at 100 per cent, even when not required.
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In coaxing the facility towards energy efficiency, Heron points to a new “watchdog system” that was added to the existing building automation system that provides her team with real-time information. “Hospital staff can control air supply, as well as monitor how many litres per second are being used in a given room. The more we know about where and when we’re using energy, the better we’re able to manage our usage and our costs.”
All this information is paying off. Systems now operate only when needed, and the hospital is saving close to $660,000 annually on energy costs – money that is being pumped right back into patient care.