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Toronto East General and Hamilton’s St. Joseph’s announce completion of substantial energy retrofits

Over the past two weeks, two southern Ontario hospitals announced the completion of major energy saving and facility renewal programs. Toronto East General Hospital (TEGH) announced completion of the construction phase of a $9.5-million program, while St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton announced the completion of facility improvements under a
$9.3-million program.  Both benefited from creative financing programs that are allowing them to pay for the improvements through the savings they realize over time.  


June 8, 2009
By Rob Colman

These two hospital projects aren’t alone. Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and many hospitals in Toronto’s dowtown core are investing substantially in energy efficiency upgrades.

“Like all public organizations, they’re trying to find ways to reduce costs – cost reduction has always been a key driver behind these types of energy performance contracts,” says Luis Rodrigues, vice president of Energy Solutions for Honeywell Building Solutions, the contractor on both of the projects announced.

“But there are a couple of other trends we’ve seen, particularly in the last five years,” continues Rodrigues. “We started to see a focus on using these projects to also fund renewal. That is a driver for sure. Our hospitals are getting older, the province can’t build new infrastructure fast enough for the demographics of our population. Hospitals are faced with the challenge of renewing their current infrastructure and their current facilities, and one way to do that effectively is to use energy savings to in effect fund some of this renewal.”

The other driver is environmental stewardship. Every one of these organizations is looking for ways to become conservation stewards. We were at St. Joseph’s (for the announcement of the project completion), and the level of interest from employees — physicians, nurses — was obvious. Their level of interest was high, and they were impressed with the senior leadership team at the hospital for undertaking these types of programs.

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Toronto East General
The TEGH project centered on infrastructure upgrades that will help the hospital reduce energy and water consumption, and is expected to trim utility bills by $880,000 per year while creating a better environment for patients, physicians and staff.

The work will reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 3,000 tonnes as well.

TEGH was also presented with more than $400,000 in incentives for its conservation efforts. This includes $130,000 in funding from the City of Toronto Capacity Buyback Program and $47,000 from Enbridge for decreased natural gas use. In addition, the City of Toronto awarded the hospital more than $240,000 through the Better Buildings Partnership (BBP) program for the hospital’s overall decrease in energy consumption and emissions.

“We offer incentives based on kilowatt hour reductions in electricity consumption,” says Angelo Poto, a Project Manager with the BBP. “Honeywell brought us to the table and said, ‘we’re doing a lot of work here at TEGH, or are in the process of getting started. What can the BBP offer to further reduce the cost and, of course, reduce the payback of these measures.’ We were quite happy to hear that they were looking at not just a single measure but doing things like lighting redesign, an updated chiller plant, a lot of work with motors and drives, building automation – a very holistic approach.

“We were quite thrilled when we were finally able to give them a check in recognition of them saving well over 3 million kWhr,” continues Poto. “That’s the largest payment we’ve had so far.”

The BBP engages a third party project evaluator to do a pre-implementation and post-implementation audit.

“I want to congratulate TEGH for taking a lead here,” says Poto. “It’s long-term asset management done right. With a better controlled building, there’s always room to move forward.”

“We are pleased to be recognized for this program and the additional funding will help us continue to provide quality patient care,” said Rob Devitt, President & CEO, Toronto East General Hospital. “We started out with the goal of improving our facilities while being fiscally and environmentally responsible. And Honeywell was able to help us hit the mark on all fronts.”

TEGH financed the improvements and will use the energy savings they produce to pay for the work. The savings are guaranteed by Honeywell through a 15-year performance contract with the hospital, creating a self-funded program with minimal financial risk.

The facility upgrades and conservation measures included:

  • Power quality improvements
  • Lighting redesign
  • Variable speed drives on cooling towers
  • Improved building envelope
  • New boiler draft controls
  • Replacement of leaky steam traps
  • Chiller plant upgrade

To reduce water use and address long-term infrastructure needs, Honeywell replaced plumbing fixtures and medical vacuum pumps, and eliminated city water waste in cooling equipment. The hospital will save approximately one million liters of water annually; enough water to fill about 40 Olympic-size swimming pools.

Honeywell also updated TEGH facilities with a new building automation system (BAS). This system will optimize energy efficiency and occupant comfort by automating the control and operation of heating, ventilation and cooling systems. The BAS can be integrated with security, life safety, financial and human resource databases to further drive productivity and reduce operating costs.


St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton
By combining energy-efficient upgrades with critical building enhancements, the program at St. Joseph’s will help the Charlton and Stoney Creek campuses address deferred maintenance, reduce their environmental footprints and save almost $1 million in utility costs per year.

The hospital will use these savings (again, guaranteed by Honeywell through a nine-year performance contract) to pay for the improvements. The energy conservation measures also qualified for more than $220,000 in incentives, including a record payment of $128,000 from Horizon Utilities Corp. and $95,000 from Union Gas. As a result, the hospital didn’t need an upfront capital investment or additional Ministry of Health funding for the work.

The program will significantly curb the hospital’s energy use; it is expected to reduce annual water consumption by more than 22 million litres, natural gas use by 820,000 cubic meters and electricity consumption by 7.3 million kilowatt-hours. In addition, carbon dioxide emissions will be reduced by approximately 3,700 tonnes per year. According to figures from Environment Canada, this is equivalent to removing more than 580 cars from the road.

“Our top priorities are to provide St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton’s patients with the highest quality care possible and our staff with a safe and comfortable work environment,” said Rebecca Repa, Vice President, Planning, Development and Diagnostic. “The partnership with Honeywell allows us to focus on patient care and gives us peace-of-mind that we are having a positive ecological impact on the community.”

One of the key upgrades was the replacement of outdated chillers with high-efficiency units that use environmentally friendly refrigerants. The new chillers provide a significant cooling plant upgrade, address a major deferred maintenance issue and improve operating efficiency, which translates to lower carbon emissions and energy savings for the hospital. Honeywell made significant changes to the hospital’s heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems as well, converting constant air volume systems to variable air volume systems that better match ventilation rates with occupancy loads. Additional measures include:

  • New energy-efficient lighting fixtures with control enhancements that will provide better illumination and reduce energy consumption;
  • Energy management system upgrades that will improve the control of building systems;
  • Water conservation upgrades, including low-flow fixtures, valves and moderators;
  • And weather sealing throughout the hospital to reduce heating and cooling loads.

Honeywell and the hospital have built upon the relationship with a second phase of work that will include installation of a new boiler plant at the hospital’s Charlton Campus. Honeywell will replace three 45-year-old boilers with efficient low-volume steam boilers, generating an annual energy savings of more than $70,000. The hospital will use Ministry funding and utility incentives to help pay for the $2.5-million performance contract. Honeywell expects to complete the boiler plant upgrade by fall 2009.


Communication and commissioning
Honeywell and St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton have also introduced a communication and awareness program to foster a better understanding of energy conservation across the hospital and surrounding community, and drive further environmental benefits and energy savings, The program includes a Web site — http://sjhh.myenergymatters.ca — that showcases project information, green-themed resources, information on available rebates, and tips to help staff, patients and visitors improve their environment at work and at home.

Rodrigues notes that communication is key throughout any project like this.

“We tend to work very closely in each hospital with a group of stakeholders that always includes the facilities organization, the CFO or someone at the financial level — and it could include the team from redevelopment, and even the CEO, like Dr. Kevin Smith at St. Joseph’s in Hamilton. It’s through that team we really start to gain an understanding of what’s important to them. And then our engineers start to look for opportunities in their facilities, where they can save energy, improve their facilities, address some renewal initiatives. Throughout that program development cycle, we return to that steering committee so that they can understand our progress and provide input. So by the time our program goes to their board for final approval, it should be a program that’s co-authored by Honeywell and the steering committee. That final program clearly highlights the scope of the project, the associated costs and savings, and the environmental benefits.

But the success of a project depends on proper commissioning and staff training, says Rodrigues.

“Systems need to be commissioned properly and there needs to be a very deliberate process for every system we put in, whether it’s new boilers or new chillers, which are very sophisticated in terms of automation. The automation systems in a building really tie all of these subsystems together, so that’s a very critical component.”
 
With respect to staff training, “The more you train (a hospital’s) staff on the technologies that are being implemented, the better off everyone is gong to be, because it alleviates feelings of uncertainty and concern. When staff is being educated on new technologies they’re more apt to take better care and greater ownership of these new assets that they’re inheriting.”

A third piece that Rodrigues points out, and that is at the heart of the new web-based program they’ve created, is energy and environmental stewardship awareness. “Employee engagement in energy conservation to us is a very critical element in these programs,” he says. “And what I mean by that is, you can put in all these wonderful systems and even controls but it still comes down to the operators, people using facilities everyday.”

In any such effort, however, it’s the leadership team that makes the commitment to creating the program in the first place.

“In our business we find organizations that are leaders and others that are followers,” says Rodrigues. “My hats off to the leadership teams of these two hospitals on being proactive. They really are being leaders.” 

For more information on Honeywell Building Solutions, visit www.honeywell.com/buildingsolutions.