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Improving Energy Efficiency and Conservation in Hospitals

Image of Natalie Patton
Natalie Patton

Administrators of healthcare facilities worldwide are increasingly deciding to incorporate new technologies to achieve greater energy efficiency in hospitals. In India, for example, Kohinoor Hospital recently achieved platinum certification by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program for using LED and CFL light bulbs, along with photovoltaic solar power to run its air conditioning equipment. In Singapore, Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital uses energy-saving lighting and solar panels along with sensors and other IoT devices to regulate its energy usage. At the heart of these systems is a building management system (BMS) that continuously monitors electricity consumption and building equipment to minimize waste. 

Improving energy efficiency in hospitals can be critical to reducing costs and carbon emissions. But it can also be challenging. Modern medical facilities depend on energy resources to treat patients, and any reduction in building performance can compromise their health and safety. This means that careful analysis and planning must be done to ensure smart building systems help you achieve greater energy efficiency while maintaining optimal conditions and functionality. When analytics becomes part of your BMS, this is within reach.

Solutions for Energy Conservation in Hospitals

Hospitals will inevitably use more energy than almost any other building in a community owing to their round-the-clock operations and complex equipment needs. While newly constructed hospitals are often designed to use the latest technology to conserve energy, older buildings often struggle to improve efficiency. But the ability to conserve energy is not limited to new construction; existing hospitals can apply measures to reduce energy usage. 

Possible solutions include: 

  • Install combined heat and power (CHP) systems.
  • Reduce use of HVAC systems when spaces are unoccupied. 
  • Replace lighting with LED or other energy-saving light bulbs. 
  • Turn off or dim lighting in unoccupied areas.
  • Swap out older hospital equipment for energy-efficient models. 
  • Seal ductwork on HVAC systems.
  • Add to insufficient or replace damaged insulation.
  • Implement on-site power generation, such as externally mounted solar panels or wind turbines

While these individual steps can make a difference, integrating smart technologies and using an analytics-driven BMS can create system-wide improvements for greater sustainability in the long term.

How Smart Systems Can Improve Energy Efficiency in Hospitals

The use of integrated building management systems and other smart technology is rapidly expanding throughout the health sector, helping to optimize efficiency in medical facilities around the world. The best systems are developed by unifying building systems, strategically installing IoT sensors, and adding a cloud-based analytics layer

The two primary types of sensors used in hospitals are:

  • Ambient sensors that monitor energy usage in areas by detecting high or low temperatures, light, heat, humidity, noise, or motion.  
  • Location sensors including infrared to sense heat, Zigbee devices that operate via close-proximity wireless technology, active RFID for connecting to access points that upload data to the cloud, and binary sensors that determine between two states of being, like on/off or open/closed.

These sensors act as an intelligent system’s eyes and ears. Analytics, however, acts as the brain. By continuously monitoring data from all connected building equipment, devices, and sensors, analytics can provide deep visibility into real-time building conditions and equipment performance and offer advanced fault detection and diagnostics. When an analytics platform has machine learning capabilities, that data can also be constantly mined for insights into areas of vulnerability and potential improvement. This approach not only makes hospitals more energy efficient via strategic automation and provides stakeholders with the information needed to make manual improvements, but it can also result in meaningful cost savings.

Automation

The automation inherent in smart building systems can contribute to energy conservation while also opening up new possibilities for maintenance.

Some basics about automated smart hospital technology:

  • Automated smart systems operate logically, controlling energy use through timing functions, remote programming, and constant system monitoring to enable optimal interactions between various subsystems, such as lighting and climate control.
  • Automated lighting can be triggered by changes in the environment, including occupancy, to eliminate the need for human intervention or inefficient time-based automation.
  • Automated energy management can reduce operating costs by making automatic adjustments to setpoints. Mobile-first interface solutions that allow users to make changes remotely can also minimize maintenance costs.

Strategic automation allows hospitals to allocate their resources effectively, resulting in not only energy use reductions, but more efficient operations overall.

Cost Savings

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):

[E]ach dollar saved by a non-profit healthcare organization through better energy performance is equivalent to generating up to $20 in new revenues for hospitals or $10 for medical offices. That means an energy efficiency project that saves $20,000 is equivalent to generating $400,000 in new revenues per year over the lifetime of the equipment.

Because of the inherent cost savings associated with energy conservation in hospitals, investment in infrastructure can have a great ROI. 

While some ways to enhance energy performance—like switching to LED lights—are obvious, the ability to monitor connected devices throughout a hospital’s systems means that analytics-led building management software can find hidden inefficiencies. With an advanced analytics platform, hospital facility managers can analyze seemingly unassociated information to identify opportunities for improvement. For example, by linking surgery scheduling systems to areas like operating theaters, you can eliminate unnecessary lighting or HVAC functions in unoccupied areas.

Reliable Energy for Hospitals

Hospitals require continuously reliable electricity to operate effectively. Adding innovative new technologies, including IoT and building data analytics, to building management software gives these essential institutions a better way to protect reliability while improving energy efficiency. 

Partnering with a provider who understands the unique needs of hospitals is the first step to achieving this. At Buildings IOT, our team of experts can offer the insights, services, and products you need to integrate building systems and deploy the best software solutions to manage energy use. With a well-architected system that centers around intelligent analytics, hospitals can realize their energy efficiency goals and invest in the future of their patients. 

Buildings IOT offers advanced analytics and master systems integrator services to improve energy efficiency in hospitals. Contact our team of experts today to learn more about our innovative technologies.

 

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