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By Dave Lubach, Associate Editor
Lighting Article Use Policy
Retrofitting the lighting system in any institutional or commercial facility is challenging for any maintenance and engineering manager.
But the challenge becomes even more daunting when the facility in question is a 1.6-million-square-foot regional medical center that provides round-the-clock service to the entire gamut of patients across several counties. The retrofit of the Georgia Regents Medical Center in Augusta required strong communication between in-house maintenance crews, contractors and the medical staff to ensure work was completed as efficiently as possible without interrupting patient care.
"When you are changing out ballasts and lights, sometimes you have to kill the power," says Jimmy Taylor, the medical center's electrical services manager. "It's hard to do that when you're talking about being in a hospital, and you are going to tell the staff or department that you have to turn off lighting in the area.
"It was very challenging to come up with a timeframe. We needed to get it done, but we had to work around their schedule, which was sometimes tough because things run 24/7. That was one of the toughest challenges, working with the staff, but they worked well with us."
Before undertaking a lighting retrofit, the medical center in 2004 sought to earn Energy Star certification, placing it among the nation's top hospitals in terms of energy performance. A utility-management committee determined the retrofit, a three-year project which started in 2007, would be a significant step toward achieving that goal.
The medical center is a massive complex. Its four main buildings include: a 500-bed medical center; a specialized care center housing a 13-county Level 1 regional trauma center; a 154-bed children's medical center housing a Level 1 pediatric trauma center; and a medical office building housing more than 80 outpatient clinics. Some of the buildings are more than 50 years old. The medical center shares a power plant with Georgia Regents University, an affiliated nearby medical school.
The lighting retrofit, which included replacing almost 12,000 lamps and ballasts in the four buildings, arose from the need to address the issue of rising utility costs.
"The first big hurdle is, you have to get the information together and quantify how much it is going to cost and how much you are going to save," says Chris Miller, the medical center's director of facilities service support. "You have to go to leadership and plead your case. At the time, we had very good support, and they helped champion this for us. The biggest hurdle is getting the funding. Once we did get the funding, the second biggest thing was selecting the contractor, that partner we wanted to do this job with and come up with a game plan to implement it."
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