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Maintenance and New Construction

March 8, 2010 - Maintenance & Operations

I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is maintenance and new construction.

Organizations that undertake substantial renovation or construction projects to supplement an existing, state-of-the-art building portfolio always work to ensure the new development does not affect existing operations or occupants. When those projects take place in a health care environment, that focus becomes even more critical.

The challenge of melding existing operations with construction projects has not impeded the unprecedented Vision 2010 expansion by Texas Children's Hospital in Houston. The hospital is in the midst of a $1.5 billion expansion that features two new facilities, one building addition, and the construction of a remote campus.

The hospital's West Campus will feature a central plant, which the main hospital does not have. The hospital uses district chilled water and steam for its main campus. The central plant on the West Campus will feature two 1,200-ton centrifugal chillers that include variable-frequency drives, or VFDs, says Skip Milton, the hospital's assistant director of facilities operations, energy, maintenance and operations.

"When we open the central plant, we've got to have licensed operating engineers with experience in operating boilers and chillers," Milton says. "We have some on our staff. All we do now is bring in chilled water from our supplier at 40 degrees and run it through our systems and send it back to them warmer. We bring in 250-pound steam, and we run it through our different systems, and we send it back as condensate."

The hospital's energy costs are expected to jump from $19 million to $25 million with the Vision 2010 facilities, so the project team made sure many of the technologies in the new buildings, such as high-efficiency boilers, VFDs on pumps and fans, and T5 compact fluorescent lamps, for example - were as energy efficient as possible. The maintenance and engineering staff also is taking on retrofits designed to save energy and money in existing facilities.

"We picked energy-efficient equipment; that was No. 1," Milton says. "No. 2 is one of the major components of our energy costs is electricity. I'm trying to put together different tactics to reduce the cost of energy per unit."


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