Energy System Technologies Provide Health-care Facilities with Dual Benefits

Best of all, when an emergency strikes, Allik can divert the cogeneration system’s power away from the other loads and direct it exclusively to the hospital. “With the combination of cogeneration and my emergency generator, we could run close to 100 percent of the hospital’s requirements in an emergency—and that’s including the necessary cooling in the summer,” Allik asserts.

Best of all, when an emergency strikes, Allik can divert the cogeneration system’s power away from the other loads and direct it exclusively to the hospital.

Best of all, when an emergency strikes, Allik can divert the cogeneration system’s power away from the other loads and direct it exclusively to the hospital. PHOTO: Robin Sommer, Images of Sommer


“This is really about resiliency,” Meer notes. “It provides UCMC with long-term savings and keeps them up and running in emergencies to serve the community. We hope more institutions will see the benefit of CHP, and the rise in adoption of these systems will make them even more cost-effective solutions for hospitals, universities, data centers and other institutions that cannot afford to lose power.”

Open Protocol Systems

For decades, building automation system (BAS) providers built their networks on proprietary platforms. This locked facility managers into working with one provider whenever system failures occurred or upgrades were needed. Recognizing the need for an open protocol to move away from propriety systems, Atlanta-based ASHRAE developed BACnet (Building Automation and Control Network) as a data communication protocol. Facility managers could now source systems and devices from a variety of suppliers, but switching out to all new systems in a single purchase was cost prohibitive.

When the facility manager at Baptist St. Anthony’s Medical Center in Amarillo, Texas, contacted Lubbock, Texas-based Control Technologies Inc., the hospital had a BAS with a proprietary communications trunk and wanted to adopt open protocol equipment. “Open protocol allows facility managers to enter into more of a partnership with their providers,” notes Rick Jones, account executive at Control Technologies, which is a member of the InsideIQ Building Automation Alliance, an international alliance of independent building automation contractors. “Competition in the marketplace drives better pricing and higher customer service standards,” Jones says.

Home to a medical staff of more than 450 physicians and 2,700 employees, the Baptist St. Anthony facility contains approximately 50 air-handling units. The field gear that controls the air-handling units throughout the hospital has thousands of control points, sending sensory information about temperature, humidity, air pressure and air quality to the system network. Supervisory controllers, which manage all the data and display it in a way that facilities personnel can understand, communicate with the field gear through a series of copper wires. “Over 20 years of installation, I estimate the hospital spent between $200,000 and $300,000 per year on this equipment. It might’ve cost $2 to $3 million to replace it all,” Jones says.

“We’re offering a seamless integration of old and new,” Jones adds. “We were able to save millions by integrating thousands of control points and monitoring data from existing systems, thus extending their useful life. When you can ease the pain and transition to a newer system over multiple years, it helps level the budget for a more attainable goal. In addition, facility managers get to choose the relationships they want to have and obtain the level of service they’re looking for.”

“We’re offering a seamless integration of old and new,” Jones adds. “We were able to save millions by integrating thousands of control points and monitoring data from existing systems, thus extending their useful life. When you can ease the pain and transition to a newer system over multiple years, it helps level the budget for a more attainable goal. In addition, facility managers get to choose the relationships they want to have and obtain the level of service they’re looking for.” PHOTO: Schneider Electric


Replacing all the equipment would be an expensive proposition, but it would also cost the hospital precious downtime in operations as an all new system was wired into place. Jones knew vendors that were backwards engineering software drivers to communicate with the older proprietary equipment, and he installed new supervisory controllers that would communicate with all of Baptist St. Anthony’s existing field gear. “To minimize lost revenue from operational downtime, I removed the front-end software, modified the database, then loaded it into the new controller that could interpret the data and scheduled a time to come in during the evening and change it over,” Jones explains.

In the end, the hospital only lost a few minutes of downtime when operations were already at a minimum. The initial switch-over was just the beginning, and Control Technologies has been working with Baptist St. Anthony’s since 2009 on the continuous effort. As old equipment breaks, the company replaces it with open protocol equipment. When state-of-theart facilities are built like Baptist St. Anthony’s new emergency room, Control Technologies brings the new technologies into the existing system.

“We’re offering a seamless integration of old and new,” Jones adds. “We were able to save millions by integrating thousands of control points and monitoring data from existing systems, thus extending their useful life. When you can ease the pain and transition to a newer system over multiple years, it helps level the budget for a more attainable goal. In addition, facility managers get to choose the relationships they want to have and obtain the level of service they’re looking for.”

Materials

Baptist St. Anthony’s Medical Center, Amarillo, Texas

Open-protocol Building Automation System: Schneider Electric

University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center, Bel Air

Cogeneration System: Caterpillar
Waste-heat Recovery System: Cain Industries

About the Author

KJ Fields
KJ Fields writes about design, sustainability and health from Portland, Ore.

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