UW Health Joins Department of Energy Conservation Partnership
UW Health has publicly announced its intention to reduce its energy use intensity by 20 percent by 2023 by joining the United States Department of Energy's Better Buildings Partnership.
The partnership is an offshoot of the Better Buildings Challenge, which started in 2011 at President Obama's behest and seeks to improve the efficiency of American commercial, institutional and multifamily buildings and industrial plants by 20 percent or more over 10 years.
According to the Department of Energy website, organizations committing to the Better Buildings Challenge agree to:
- Conduct an energy efficiency assessment of their building portfolio and pledge an organization-wide energy savings goal.
- Take action by showcasing an energy efficiency project and implementing a plan to achieve lasting energy savings.
- Report results by sharing cost-effective approaches for saving energy and performance data that demonstrates the success.
As an organization, UW Health has already made significant progress toward the goal by:
- Retro-commissioning several buildings
- Instituting LED lighting upgrades
- Implementing HVAC scheduling changes, temperature set-backs, and occupancy sensors
- Installing high-efficiency equipment
- Introducing demand-reduction strategies
UW Health sustainability director Mary Evers Statz is responsible for making sure the organization meets the partnership's goals. One of her major projects is to retro-commission SwedishAmerican Hospital, with which UW Health formally merged in 2015.
Generally, her approach is to embed energy-conserving principles in widespread UW Health processes while not compromising patient care.
"UW Health is here to take care of patients," she says. "So we're not impacting patient care (with energy-saving initiatives). We want to save energy when no one is around."
One way to do so is to reduce energy use when patients or staff are not in the buildings. In addition, modern energy systems are automated, so UW Health instituted a pilot program this past summer to decrease energy consumption during peak demand periods. Automated adjustments were made to the HVAC systems in non-patient areas in an effort to control energy use during costly peak demand times.
"It's not as easy as just flipping a switch off," she says with a laugh, but it is an effective way to live up to the dictates of the Better Buildings Challenge.