Category Archives: Energy Efficiency

Energy Efficiency: StewardshipPosted on April 8, 2019

Justin Clark, MBA

Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?

I want to sincerely thank you for following along with this series. I know at times, the subject matter is about as exciting as watching paint dry, but I am passionate about efficiency and believe that the concept is critical to our ability to thrive going forward as an organization. Energy is merely one area where efficiency techniques and thinking can be applied to leverage better results for the organization.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

As a parting thought, I would like to leave you with this – the issue isn’t really efficiency at all, it is stewardship. More specifically, as leaders, how will we steward the resources at our disposal. Will we treat them like they’re our very own? Thus, choosing to think critical about how we expend them. Or, will we disregard this responsibility, and casually go one about our work while wasteful habits persist around us.

This idea of stewardship is central to them concept of efficiency. My hope is that after reading through some of the resources in this series, you will be better equipped to steward the resource of energy that we are given.

How can you do it?

Be intentional.
Make a commitment to leading with stewardship in mind. Resolve to see the opportunities for A Better Way in our daily routines and environments.

Be a participant.
My goal is to launch and organization wide energy contest later in 2019. Stay tuned for more information. When we do launch the contest, please support our efforts to further reduce our expenditures on energy.

Be a life long learner.
We are constantly coming up with new ways and ideas about how to be better stewards of energy. Be committed to learning about new opportunities when they are available.

Will you commit to learning more about how you can help us develop a culture of energy efficiency and sustainability at SOMC?


Energy Efficiency: Putting the Pieces TogetherPosted on April 1, 2019

Justin Clark, MBA

Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?

As I begin to wind down this series on Energy Efficiency, I want to direct back in time to what we have previously talked about. Over the last few months, I have presented both the case for energy efficiency as well as some practical tips for how to lead with this in mind.

If you have been following along, it may seem overwhelming to try and implement each and every one of the ideas that we have mentioned. This is especially the case for leaders who have other functional responsibilities to be mindful of.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

I want to offer you some encouragement if those feelings are resonating with you. It was never my intention to try and convince you to implement all of the various ideas.

My primary goal was to move energy efficiency into the realm of possibility within your mind. I first hoped to accomplish this by explaining why I felt it was important to us as an organization and inviting you to join me in that belief.

If, and only if, I was able to successfully convince you that you and your team could have a positive impact on our bottom line, then I hoped I could persuade you to consider some practical steps to implementation.

For each of you, the reality is that many of the steps I suggested are either not feasible or offer little return on investment. As leaders, I hope that you will look for the idea that best fits with your area of responsibility while maximizing the benefit to the organization.

How can you do it?

See the waste around you.
Whether its lights being left on or temperature fluctuation, there is most likely energy being used that doesn’t need to be. Look for these opportunities in your areas.

Make a plan.
Work with Plant Operations to develop a plan to save energy. This process should include calculating the potential savings in order to determine if the juice is worth squeeze.

Sell your idea.
Once you have identified an opportunity and have a plan, it is time to convince your team to join you on this journey. Use the data you collected in calculating an ROI to compel them to participate.

Measure your success.
Track how your team does. If possible, put the item on your department dashboard in the Performance section.

Will you commit to learning more about how you can help us develop a culture of energy efficiency and sustainability at SOMC?


Energy Efficiency: Cord ManagementPosted on March 25, 2019

Justin Clark, MBA

Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?

It has been 122 years since the novel Dracula was published by Bram Stoker. You might be wondering what this has to do with energy efficiency? Well, I am glad you asked. Dracula is probably the most famous vampire of all time, but he is obviously just a fictional character.

Today, I am going to introduce you to a real life vampires that probably lives in your and home and in your office at work. Don’t worry, they aren’t interested in your blood. They want something else – the electricity that you’re paying for. These vampires are called energy vampires.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

An energy vampire is any electric item or device that remains plugged in all of the time. Even when you aren’t using it, it is likely still consuming smaller amounts of electricity, especially if it has a visual or digital display.

Here is a nice write up on energy vampires from Energy.gov.

Some of the biggest offenders when it comes to energy vampires are computers, TVs, video game consoles, and device chargers.

You might think that this phenomenon would result in a relatively insignificant amount of energy consumption, but studies have indicated that as much as ten percent of electricity used in residential settings can be attributed to energy vampires.

How can you do it?

Computers.
Many of us need to leave our computers on for work purposes, even when we aren’t in the office. If you dont, the best thing you can do is to shut it off when you leave. If you do need to leave it on, make sure that Sleep Mode is activated.

Device chargers.
I can’t be the only person who leaves the charger to my phone plugged into the wall all of the time. As a matter of fact, I have multiple chargers that have a “permanent home” in their respective outlets. In order to limit the amount of energy that they use, pop that charging block out when you’re done charging.

Other equipment.
Sometimes we have multiple devices plugged into a common or central location. Consider using a power strip with an on/off switch for each item. When you aren’t using any of them, simply switch the entire strip off. Be careful though, in the hospital setting, their are safety guidelines pertaining to the use of power strips that will need to be followed.

Will you commit to learning more about how you can help us develop a culture of energy efficiency and sustainability at SOMC?


Energy Efficiency: Buying EquipmentPosted on March 17, 2019

Justin Clark, MBA

Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?

Most of us don’t give a second thought about energy efficiency when buying equipment – myself included. However, in most cases, there are many variables to consider before settling on the exact item to purchase. Because we so often deal with complex systems and equipment, we can tend to be dismissive of the more run of the mill items that we purchase. It is these very items (i.e. appliances, telecommunications devices, computer equipment) that can make a measurable impact on the bottom line and our energy usage.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

Energy Star is a name that is synonymous with efficiency. There are ratings for almost everything that uses energy, including buildings (more on that next week).

If something is rated Energy Star, it immediately can be considered more efficient than other similar items that aren’t rated. Energy Star is a government backed rating system devised to help consumers make smart and educated choices about their purchases when it comes to efficiency.

For the sake of our discussion, I want to direct us to the Energy Star website.

https://www.energystar.gov/products/appliances

Here you will find links to dozens and dozens of different types of equipment. Within each link will be information about how to make the best purchasing decision for your application.

Not only will buying equipment under the Energy Star label result in less money being spent to run the equipment, the hospital is also eligible to receive rebates for the purchase of most Energy Star rated equipment from our utility companies. It’s a real win win opportunity.

How can you do it?

Do research.
When looking for new equipment, use the link above to determine the best type of device for your needs.

Narrow your choices.
Once you have options, narrow your list to the most efficient device that best meets your need. Obviously, cost is still a consideration and we should do a quick ROI calculation to make sure that what you’re about to buy is the best bottom line investment.

Ask questions.
If you aren’t sure what the best choice might be, seek out the input of someone else. I am happy to answer any questions you might have about a specific purchase.

Will you commit to learning more about how you can help us develop a culture of energy efficiency and sustainability at SOMC?


Energy Efficiency: Utilizing TechnologyPosted on March 11, 2019

Justin Clark, MBA

Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?

Up until now, we have pretty much talked about low-tech solutions to most of our energy savings opportunities. Today, we are going to discuss something that is straight forward conceptually, but that uses technology to deliver a desired result. 

Many of you probably have a programmable thermostat in your house. The idea is that it is not necessary (it’s wasteful) to heat and cool your house when no one is there. Therefore, you identify ranges and allow the system to drift during those times. This drifting of the temperature, up or down, results in savings by not running the mechanical systems that heat and cool your house. 

The hospital can work the same way, but because of the size and scale of our application, we need something a little more sophisticated than a residential programmable thermostat. 

What is the case for doing it anyway?

In the hospital, we use something called a Building Automation System or BAS. The BAS is integrated into numerous systems including our HVAC system. As a result, we can control spaces by multiple variables, including temperature and humidity. 

While the system has many capabilities, one of the simplest and most useful is what we call setback mode. Setback mode allows us to setback the normal temperature in a space that is not occupied 24/7. This functionality is currently available in most of the hospital and some of our MOBs. Over the next few years, our goal in Maintenance is to equip the rest of the Hospital and many more of our MOBs with a BAS system to take advantage of this feature. 

How can you do it?

Identify opportunities.
Assess your areas of responsibility and determine if any of them might be a candidate for this function. The optimal areas are ones that are consistently unoccupied at the same times. For example, an administrative area that is only occupied M-F. Or, an area that is only occupied 12 hours a day. 

Set a schedule. 
Once you have identified a potential opportunity. Determine the optimal schedule for the setback. Ideally, you will want to provide a buffer on both ends of the range to accommodate people coming in early or leaving late. I would recommend a 90 minute buffer on either end of the usual schedule for the space. If the area is occupied 12 hours a day, we could do a setback for a nine hour period to capture some savings. 

Coordinate with Maintenance.
Maintenance owns the system that will control the HVAC. Work with them to implement a setback. I recommend that you check back in 30-60 days after implementation to make sure things are working out to your satisfaction. The schedule may need adjusted. 

Communicate with staff. 
Make sure that your staff is aware of what you’re doing. Otherwise, they may contact Maintenance with concerns that the system is not functioning correctly. 

Will you commit to learning more about how you can help us develop a culture of energy efficiency and sustainability at SOMC?




Energy Efficiency: Lighting TechnologyPosted on March 4, 2019

Justin Clark, MBA

Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?

While last week’s post highlighted how leaders can model behavior that leads to sustainable change, this week’s post is going to take a different approach. When we talk about technology that reduces our energy usage, many may assume that this is beyond the scope of what they can do. 

While that may be true with regards to implementation of technology, it is most certainly not true when it comes to identifying areas where that technology can best be deployed. That is where I am asking for you help.  

What is the case for doing it anyway?

There are many types of technology that can help us reduce energy usage when it comes to lighting. As a leader, you’re best equipped to help us understand how your spaces are being utilized and what solutions that we may want to consider. 

How can you do it?

Do you need to leave the lights on. 
Some areas are routinely occupied all of the time (or at least most of it) and appropriate lighting is essential for tasks to be completed. For these areas, we would want to consider the most efficient lighting solution on the market. In most cases, that means LED lighting. While LEDs are generally the most efficient source of light, they are not cheap. Payback on something like that is only reasonable when the lights are utilized for at least 12 hours a day. Some common locations include Laboratories, Nurse Stations, and Emergency Departments.

Does traffic come and go. 
Do you have a space that gets a lot of traffic in and out, but doesn’t necessarily have anyone who occupies it routinely? That space is a prime candidate for an occupancy sensor. With high traffic in and out, the likelihood that the light is consistently turned off goes down. The most common spaces for this application include storage rooms, conference rooms, and rest rooms. 

Look for opportunity. 
Both of these examples are practical applications where technology can be utilized to improve our efficiency. As a leader, please take the opportunity to look over your areas and see if you believe either of them could be implemented. If you believe it makes sense, please reach out to the Maintenance Department with a room number. They will schedule a review to determine if it makes sense to proceed. 

Will you commit to learning more about how you can help us develop a culture of energy efficiency and sustainability at SOMC?


Energy Efficiency: LightingPosted on February 24, 2019

Justin Clark, MBA

Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?

Are the lights on? Are the lights off? How often do we even notice? How many times a day do we leave a room at work and not even pay attention? 

We all have plenty to do. The last thing that is on our minds is probably whether or not I hit the switch on my office before I left. Moreover, leaving your light on is a common indicator of the fact that you’re in the office even if you aren’t right there when someone is looking for you. 

This combination of indifference and utility can make it easy for lights to be left on. 

You might even have read this much and even be wondering does it really even matter? Hasn’t Maintenance worked to convert lighting to some of the most efficient options out there? While the answer to the second question is generally a yes, I want to lay a challenge out there for each of you.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

The organization has dozens over three dozen Facilities of varying size. That’s over 1 million square feet of space and thousands of individual rooms. A conservative estimate would be that we have over 10,000 light fixtures. That’s a lot of lights and high likelihood that many of them are on when they don’t need to be

Why does it matter though? You might be thinking that even if we were perfect at turning lights off when they weren’t needed that the savings wouldn’t be that significant. I am even willing concede that you might be right. With so many different types of fixtures and so much variation in how spaces are used, it’s almost impossible to estimate the savings from successfully changing people’s behavior. 

However, I would argue that being mindful of how leaving lights on is wasteful and committing to ending this wasteful behavior is important. You see, simply turning lights off when they aren’t needed is probably the easiest way for individuals to participate in reducing our energy waste as an organization. By participating, and seeing the results of this behavior change, staff are more likely to start looking for other ways to reduce waste. 

How can you do it?

See the waste. 
Would you throw $.25 down the drain every day? It’s not a significant amount of money, but you would probably still think this act was foolish and therefore not do it. Well, leaving lights on is no different than flushing money down the drain. In this case, it isn’t even your money, it’s the hospital’s. As a leader, we are tasked with being the best steward of the hospital’s resources that we can be.

Change your behavior. 
Start with yourself. When you’re leaving your office, even if it’s just for a bit, turn your light off. Staff will notice. They might even think you aren’t there that day. Let them know that isn’t the case. Instead, let them know you’ve committed to reducing waste.

Challenge your team.
This is one area that allows everyone to participate. Ask your team to see the waste that is in front of them. Maybe it’s in meeting rooms or storage areas. When they see lights that are left on, have them turn them off. 

Will you commit to learning more about how you can help us develop a culture of energy efficiency and sustainability at SOMC?


Energy Efficiency: Supplemental HeatPosted on February 18, 2019

Justin Clark, MBA

Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?

Every single one of us know this situation all too well. Someone thinks it’s too hot. Someone else thinks it’s too cold. The cycle is vicious and seems to be never ending. The simplest solution is often to try and satisfy both. The result? We have space heaters and fans. Fans have general gone away because of the data around how they negatively impact air quality. Space heaters on the other hand? Well…they continue to to multiply at a rate that seems hard to imagine. While fire codes prevent them from being used within a hospital, they are fair game and frankly, almost a rite of passage in the office setting. At last count, the Bio Medical Engineering Department has over 200 in their inventory. 

Why am I lecturing you on the use of space heaters? They seem relatively harmless, right? Well, while they may be an employee satisfier, they come at a cost to the organization. What is that cost? I am glad you asked. 

What is the case for doing it anyway?

The average space heater cost $.50/hour to run. That seems like no big deal right? Well, let’s do the math. 

With over 200 space heaters, that is at least $100/hr to run all of our space heaters. Let’s assume that people run their space heaters half a day, every day, between September and March. 

Here is the math:

4 hours a day X 130 days = 520 hours

520 hours X $100 per hour = $52,000

So, if people only run their space heaters for half a day and they only do it for six months a year, the energy cost alone is approximately $52,000/year. 

However, there are other costs. The cost to purchase the space heater, the cost of manpower to deliver it and check it annually, and the incidental costs of the space heater causing the HVAC system to cool. 

You see, often times, when someone runs a space heater, the HVAC system in the space senses that the space is warmer than the set point and the air conditioning will work against the space heater to try and cool the space. This cycle will continue indefinitely until either the set point is changed or the space heater is turned off. 

The actual cost of space heaters to the organization is likely well over $100,000 when all of these factors are considered. 

How can you do it?

Have a game plan.
Work with your team and Maintenance to determine the best set point for the temperature in your area. System heating is far more efficient than supplemental heating.

Consider removing space heaters.
If the set point can consistently be achieved, consider removing space heaters all together. 

Dress accordingly. 
Adding or removing an extra layer is the best way to deal with the variation in temperature preferences at work. Supplemental heating and cooling are the most expensive. As a team, make the commitment to addressing this issue in a more efficient way. 

Will you commit to learning more about how you can help us develop a culture of energy efficiency and sustainability at SOMC?


Energy Efficiency: Temperature VariationPosted on February 11, 2019

Justin Clark, MBA

2/10/2019

Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?

What temperature do you keep your house? Many of us have a very specific answer to this question. Typically, your answer is predicated on a simple choice. That choice is whether or not your motivation behind the setting is primarily comfort or cost. If it is comfort, you will keep it warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. People who allow cost to be the main variable in their choice will keep it cooler in the winter and warmer in the summer. 

My experience at work is that almost everyone things about comfort when they think about the temperature and not the cost. I want to encourage you think about the cost of your comfort at the workplace. 

What is the case for doing it anyway?

What is the cost of our comfort? 

Well, first, we need to understand just how much of our utility spend each month goes to heating and cooling our spaces. A 2012 study indicates that more than 40% of energy used in commercial buildings in the US goes towards heating, cooling, and ventilation. This is the single largest category when it comes to energy usage. 

Furthermore, there is opportunity for significant savings. As much as 3% of total usage can be saved by simply moving the thermostat one degree. 

Many of our clinical areas already have predefined ranges that are established to protect both the patients and the processes that we use to treat them. We also allow patients broad discretion in areas like impatient rooms to make them as comfortable as possible. 

However, we still have tens of thousands of square feet that we could consider implementing standard temperatures. Conservatively, setting the temperature at 68 in the winter and 72 in the summer could net us a savings of $10,000-$15,000 a month. 

How can you do it?

Comfort or Cost.
Watch how your team uses the thermostat. Many departments will move the settings back and forth to try and satisfy everyone. Are you and your team setting your thermostat for comfort or for cost? Is there room to move the setting a degree or two?

Pick a number.
Work together and decide on a setting for your team. Agree to keep it there. There are established design guidelines for all spaces intended to balance both cost and comfort. For most non-clinical areas, the range is 68-75. Every time change the setting, the system has to work harder to satisfy the space and thus our cost increases.

Consider giving up control.
Most of our buildings have the ability to control temperature remotely. Maintenance can establish a set temperature and the system will control to it. If we are already doing this and you have questions, contact us. We can use measuring devices the validate that the temperatures in your space match what our system is trying to control to. 

Will you commit to learning more about how you can help us develop a culture of energy efficiency and sustainability at SOMC?


Energy Efficiency: Human BehaviorPosted on February 3, 2019

Justin Clark, MBA

2/3/2019

Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?

We dont instinctively see ourselves as “consumers” of energy. At least not in the same way that we think about how equipment and machinery might use energy. 

As leaders, we are more apt to focus on how we consume other resources like purchased goods or services. We see both of those as line items in our individual budgets, but the cost of the energy that we are using isn’t reflected in our department level budgets, so we are less likely to see our behavior as energy consumers as something that costs money. 

What is the case for doing it anyway?

While Maintenance has the responsibility to implement behind the scenes initiatives to help reduce energy usage, each individual can and should do the same. 

Each of us impact our organizational energy usage every day. Every thing we do either directly or indirectly contributes to it. 

We must retrain our brains to see that as individuals (and as teams), we can help to reduce our energy usage. As an organization, setting expectations for each of us as individuals is a key element of a sustainable energy efficiency program. It is vital to moving us onward from our previous successes. 

How can you do it?

Know your impact. 
Even though it doesn’t hit your bottom line, your behavior and your teams behaviors have an impact on our organization energy consumption. 

See the opportunities. 
Observe your own behaviors and those of your team. Start to look for opportunities to use less energy in your daily routines. 

Encourage your team.
By leading with these goals in mind, you will model for your team the behaviors that we expect. You can also encourage them to understand their impacts and see their own opportunities. 

Will you commit to learning more about how you can help us develop a culture of energy efficiency and sustainability at SOMC?


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