UW Health Energy Enhancement Update
UW Health continues making energy upgrades at the University Hospital and American Family Children's Hospital facilities, and expanded these efforts to include West Clinic and the Digestive Health Center.
These energy enhancement efforts—also known as retrocommissioning—help reduce energy usage and cost, and are part of a larger effort by leaders to promote sustainability at the UW Health facilities.
What is retrocommissioning?
Retrocommissioning, or RCx, is the process of improving existing building performance and efficiency of systems, equipment and operations. In addition to saving energy and cost, retrocommissioning can improve occupant comfort and improve indoor air quality, as well as reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance equipment maintenance.
Sustainable Engineering Group (SEG), a Madison-based consulting firm, helped continue these efforts with an energy audit of West Clinic and Digestive Health Center, which began in September 2015. The audit identified opportunities to lower energy use while maintaining or even improving upon the comfort of employees, patients and visitors, and the quality of the indoor environment.
The most significant potential for savings that SEG identified had to do with scheduling when equipment is used and how the equipment is controlled to provide a comfortable indoor environment. The implementation was a two-step process:
- Implement a change in just one area and then evaluate the impact.
- If it was a success, that change was implemented throughout the facility, using the lessons learned in the smaller trial period.
This method allows staff to identify any early issues, such as equipment problems or the comfort of the people using the spaces.
Energy Saving Projects
Major projects undertaken by internal staff, SEG and controls vendors included:
- Scheduling exhaust and ventilation systems, and only exhausting and ventilating areas when spaces are occupied by people
- Reducing heating and cooling energy loads when the weather is mild
- Using more outside air to cool the building when temperatures outside are mild
- Updating and tuning building control strategies and equipment
The total cost of work at West Clinic and Digestive Health Center was $91,500 and the annual cost savings is projected to be $96,000. Additionally, UW Health qualified for $91,000 in Focus on Energy incentives, which will be reinvested into a new sustainability budget to fund future projects.
Based on the four years of retrocommissioning, encompassing projects at 1 S. Park Clinic, the Clinical Sciences Center, American Family Children’s Hospital, West Clinic, and Digestive Health Center, UW Health has netted more than $600,000 in energy cost savings. This is a greenhouse gas equivalent to 495 homes annual energy use or 1,142 passenger vehicles driven for one year.