St. Vincent Medical Center North - Leaner Energy Initiative

Benefits/Results

Financial benefits for St. Vincent North Hospital: In one year’s time, the hospital will save $75,684, reducing energy consumption by 11.8 percent annually. System-wide, the organization seeks to save $11 million to $17 million in energy costs by FY16.


Challenge/Situation

Catholic Health Initiatives is committed to environmental stewardship, and has been engaged in green efforts since its inception, 16 years ago. Reducing energy consumption has been a focus of CHI’s efforts, and CHI has been actively partnering with Practice Greenhealth and Energy Star since 2004 to improve energy efficiency. Many of the CHI facilities are aging, which challenges this goal, so CHI looks to retrofit systems where and when it can, especially seeking projects that have a 24-month payback. All new CHI facilities are built with energy cost and consumption in mind to maximize efficiency and increase our capacity to be good stewards of our environment.

Whether retrofitting or building new spaces or facilities, CHI emphasizes patient comfort. In lighting choices that honor a healing environment and in reducing infection through better air flow within the building, CHI is committed to the patient experience while simultaneously honoring environmental stewardship displayed in effective and efficient operations.

CHI strives to be a community leader in environmental efforts in all our facilities, mindful of reducing our carbon footprint and its impact on the communities we serve. Reducing energy consumption yields significant savings for the organization and simultaneously reduces greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. It is our intent to communicate our efforts and achievements in our communities, setting the bar high to engage surrounding businesses in environmental strategies that promote conservancy and efficiency.

Strategy/Actions

To implement the energy program across CHI, we have used a utility bill-pay service to simultaneously pay energy bills while collecting energy consumption data. This process streamlines two bodies of work and provides real-time energy data for each facility. Additionally, CHI has selected a preferred design team with environmental competencies, and CHI has set design standards for all new building, with a primary focus on energy efficiency. The facilities-management staff has also been nationalized to ensure projects are continually aligned with goals – not always an easy feat in a system with over 80 acute care facilities. Ultimately, however, the efforts must be tailored to each and every facility and implemented on a case-by-case basis. CHI thinks nationally, plans regionally and implements locally to ensure each facility can achieve its maximum reduction.

For St. Vincent North, a clear case for retrofitting was made with the expectation of efficiency savings payback in 24 months. All indications are that the payback will be made within eight months, and organizational savings will be calculable within the first year. This project had a dual benefit as well, changing the efficiency of the air handling system while lowering the cost of energy. In the increased efficiency, there is also a labor savings for the hospital.

The Team:

Andy Woommavovah, Assistant Director, CHI National Facilities (Team Chair)
Kevin Johnson, Director, CHI Facilities
Ed Tinsley, Executive Managing Principal, TME, Inc., Little Rock

Implementation Process

For St. Vincent North, the following approaches were integral to successful energy reduction in their retro-commissioning process:

  • Room ventilation schedule was corrected and validated.
  • Unoccupied/occupied air flow rates for cath labs were implemented by using set-backs in the air flow, resulting in an energy savings when not occupied.
  • Revisions were made to the air terminal programming in the building ventilation system to provide better efficiencies.

Retrofitting was accomplished by a team from TME Corporation, Little Rock, Ark., and Kevin Johnson, Director at St. Vincent North in Little Rock. The entire process was accomplished in four months, and staff members were trained in the new system.

The program has been in place with the retrofitted accommodations for five months and recognized a savings of $7,522 in the first month of operation and every month thereafter. Projections are for an annual savings of $75,684, with the total cost of retrofitting at $57,500. The current Energy Star rating was raised by 32 points.

Lessons Learned/Recommendations

  • CHI’s approach to retrofitting required significant planning, so assembling the right team and the right expertise is essential.
  • It is possible to use existing equipment in the retrofitting process, saving up-front costs and maximizing the return on investment.
  • With a less than one year payback on initial investment, the case for future retrofitting throughout CHI can easily be made.

Demographic information

St. Vincent North is a 69-bed, acute-care facility in Sherwood, Ark. The hospital was built in 1995. The total floor area of the facility is 159,518 square feet, and it has annual energy costs of $683,365. The energy cost index as such is $4.28 per square foot. The national office for CHI is located in Englewood, Colo.


Download Case Study