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Health Care and ENERGY STAR
With 24/7 occupancy and the need for higher ventilation rates, health care facilities face a different energy challenge than school buildings. Still, as director of facilities management and construction of the 173-bed Lawrence Memorial Hospital, Skanda Skandaverl faced a problem common to many facility executives. He had been trying to improve energy performance, but couldn’t prove to top management he was making any headway. “I was trying to save on utilities but it appeared that every step I took forward I was slipping down two steps,” Skandaverl says.
Such problems can make it hard for facility improvements to gain approval from the C-suite because the facility department doesn’t have a track record of success within the organization.
Skandaverl began using ENERGY STAR to track the hospital’s energy use in 1996. Today, the building has a score of 72, three points shy of the 75 required to earn the ENERGY STAR For Buildings Label.
Watching the ENERGY STAR score drop during a construction project led Skandaverl to have the construction team install a temporary wall between the hospital and an addition to reduce the loss of conditioned air. A program was put in place to ensure construction lights were shut off each day. Window leaks were fixed. VFDs were installed. And the chiller was more tightly controlled.
More importantly, being able to demonstrate continuous improvement to the CEO gave him more freedom to pursue projects to drive down energy costs, Skandaverl says. “You earn the trust by showing you did a good job,” he says. “And when you do, you can reinvest the savings back into the energy savings program.”
Based in Washington State, Providence Health Care would seem like a curious choice for an ENERGY STAR Partner. After all, like many facilities in the area, the organization has access to cheap hydroelectric power.
Energy Director Richard Beam took a different view.
The facility department pays the energy bills, and energy is the single largest line item on the facility budget — roughly 60 cents of every dollar, Beam says. The next largest line is payroll for facility staff. In essence, when asked by the CEO to trim the facility budget, cutting energy costs is a way to save facility jobs.
Beam has 230 facilities in five states using the ENERGY STAR portfolio manager tool. Each month he monitors the ENERGY STAR scores, which are rolled up into a corporate tool that ranks facilities based on region, energy intensity and historic consumption data.
“Facility managers are busy people,” Beam says. “Most of them have much more work on their plate than what they have time to do. One thing I can do as the corporate energy director is to give them accurate reports they can use to take to their manager without having to go and create the reports themselves.”
Beam says ENERGY STAR is valuable as a motivational tool, especially for facility staff who manage a building that has earned the ENERGY STAR label. “Recognition in facility groups usually brings even more results,” he says. “It’s not every day that group gets recognized for the hard work they do.”