Last week, we featured the first half of a series of steps your hospital can take to generate immediate and long-term energy cost savings. Click here to read the first three steps, or continue reading below for the final three recommendations for major energy savings.
STEP FOUR: Present data as an action plan
Sure, information can be great to have, but it is only valuable if it can be acted on for results. Because it’s tempting and easy to overload on information, we advise following a sequential approach: Plan – Do – Check – Act.
Having too much data is as good as having no data. While a traditional BMS presents data, many times it can be too much and overwhelming. With all of this data you have two options: 1) ignore it (which happens all too frequently due to an overload of alerts, alarms, notifications, etc.), or 2) implement building analytics that enable you to digest the data, analyze it and take intelligent and actionable steps that lead to optimization. This second option is the next evolution of building management systems.
If you’ve taken care to identify the most appropriate data for your goals, the information captured will help build the business case; supporting all decisions regarding changes to your HVAC system and chiller plant. So, first verify the data. Next, define and prioritize the required action items. Then, don’t wait – take action.
STEP FIVE: Stabilize current operations
Many hospitals use recommissioning or retro-commissioning to ensure their plants are operating correctly. Although this improves performance, it is a static exercise that corrects issues only at one point in time.
In our experience, a better approach is to use constant commissioning. This will provide complete transparency and ensure your systems are running properly, 24/7. Constant commissioning immediately notifies operations when something is wrong, rather than waiting until the next commissioning, which could be a year or longer. Let’s face it, over the course of 12 months, equipment ages and degrades and other variables can impact your systems. Maybe there are closures or additions to the facility. Unusual weather conditions can occur along with a multitude of other factors that can strain or change the operational integrity of your plant.
The most important benefit of constant commissioning is the visibility of efficiency, or inefficiency, on specific pieces of equipment. Continuous monitoring ensures that a plant’s true performance is in line with its original design standards. This type of tracking allows you to conduct cost-saving analysis and to adjust components as needed in order to maintain optimal energy efficiency.
Because the plant is a dynamic environment, issues are constantly occurring. In today’s lean economy, few hospitals have extra facility workers, so they must focus on the most important faults. Your system should be able to prioritize those faults for you. At Broward Health, 70 percent of all calls to their help desk center are from individuals complaining that they are too hot or too cold. A proper feedback loop could identify root causes quickly and allow employees to focus on proactive, preventive work rather than on reactive control issues.
Once you have a constant commissioning program in place, you can also ensure that all repair work both achieves and maintains/improves your efficiency. For example, by leveraging constant commissioning, Miami Children’s Hospital was able to uncover serious inefficiencies in their plant that they then brought to their vendors to address. The objective is to develop a “fix forever” mentality.
By stabilizing first, you can often avoid spending money unnecessarily and you can expect to yield long-term savings. Efficiencies and savings are already “latent” with your current HVAC system, waiting to be discovered.
STEP SIX: Find the “Peak”
Your system is stabilized, now you’re ready to find its “peak performance” capabilities. It’s easier to accomplish this if you view achieving peak not as an expense, but as an investment that delivers true ROI via energy savings. Your organization has made a substantial investment in the chiller plant and other HVAC components. Perfecting and protecting that equipment requires an “investment” mind-set as well.
No matter the age of your system, you can start conserving energy right away by maximizing what you already have in place. Identify the key equipment, implementing set point adherence and then commit to preventive maintenance. By closely watching usage trends in this key equipment, you will be able to determine problems before they happen. We call this predictive maintenance. This methodology will enable you to analyze data in order to better model improvements and track actual cost savings, supporting your investment.
Now, you are ready to drive your system to further peak performance by applying optimization science for around-the-clock predictive maintenance. New technologies can automatically direct your HVAC system to efficiency levels not otherwise possible with conventional sequencing.
Source: www.cleantechnica.com; Manny Rosendo; March 10, 2014.