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Seton Family Healthcare is one of the Ascension ministries (health systems) with a "fairly robust facilities group," according to Alan Bell, director of design and construction for Seton. But that doesn't mean the Ascension Facilities Resource Group doesn't bring value.
In January 2009, Dell Children's Medical Center in Austin, Texas, a $200 million, 470,000-square-foot facility became the first ever LEED Platinum health care facility. The hospital is now building a third bed tower, a $48 million project that will add 71 beds to the existing hospital. The addition, which had been master planned in the design of the original facility that opened in 2007, is designed to be LEED Platinum with the LEED for Health Care rating system and is expected to be ready for patients in May 2013.
"The Facilities Resource Group is in more of an advisory role for us," says Bell. "Their benefit for us is helping track the Ascension approval process for funding, and letting us know what we need to provide." Bell says McCoole and his team also provided input on the selection of the architect for the new bed tower and helped interview contractors.
The tower, Bell says, is sort of a "guinea pig" for some of the new design standards McCoole and the Facilities Resource Group have developed. "They are the keepers of the design guidelines," says Bell. "They've done the yeoman's work at building and maintaining those. These have become part of the program data for our projects."
So even though this facility is "out there," as Bell says, in terms of its environmental strategies, it still is an example of how the central Facilities Resource Group adds value for its individual ministries, without being too heavy handed. "They have a tough job," says Bell. "Some ministries have more resources than others. They have to find how best to work with different organizations."
The value of retrocommissioning, even for smaller facilities, is starkly illustrated in the case of Sacred Heart Hospital on the Gulf in Port St. Joe, Fla. A routine visit to the three-year-old, 19-bed hospital uncovered "numerous inefficiencies in the operation of the central plant," according to Gerry Kaiser, director, Facilities Resource Group for Ascension Health. So the Facilities Resource Group partnered with one of its preferred engineering firms to do a full-scale retrocommissioning on the building.
One of the biggest issues found was "double treating" air – outside air brought into the facility during summer months was first overcooled to reduce humidity, then the air was reheated to the appropriate level of comfort.
"Creating operational sequences to eliminate this saves energy costs," says Kaiser.
In total, there were no additional capital costs to correct this problem and other operational issues. Ascension spent $30,000 on consulting and engineering fees, but is realizing a savings of $13,000 per month compared to the previous year, savings Kaiser says he expects to continue month to month.
- Greg Zimmerman
Facilities Resource Group Supports Sustainability Efforts At Dell Children's Hospital