Sustainability Tip of the Month

Sustainability Tip of the Month

Sustainability Tip of the Month

Tip #13

Yes, Your ENERGY STAR® Score Probably Changed in August

By Clark Reed, National Program Manager, ENERGY STAR, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

On August 26, EPA released updated models that enable commercial building owners across many U.S. building sectors to calculate revised 1–100 ENERGY STAR® scores based on the latest available market data. These revised models did not include hospitals, medical offices, or senior care communities; hospitals and medical office buildings will likely be updated in late 2019. However, hospital engineers may still have seen minor adjustments to their score. Model updates provide EPA an opportunity to update other factors that go into the calculation of ENERGY STAR scores. Since the electrical grid has become more efficient, Portfolio Manager’s Site-to-Source conversion factor for electricity was updated from 3.1 to 2.8. This affects all property types, and EPA calculations show that hospitals will see a small 1- to 3-point increase, on average, in their scores as a result of this change.

EPA also made more significant changes to the score models for offices and warehouses. If your portfolio of buildings includes either of these, then you likely saw the ENERGY STAR scores for these buildings drop sharply. Office scores nationally declined an average of 12 points, while warehouses fell an average of 7 points.

Why the Large Drop?

ENERGY STAR scores compare a building’s performance to others in the nation. Because the national building stock has become more efficient over the past decade, on average, ENERGY STAR scores for most building types decreased after these updates. Moreover, it has been 9 years since the last updates to the score models (something EPA normally plans to do every 4 to 5 years). This gap was the result of 2007 survey data not being published for public use as we had been expecting.

Industry Engagement and Review Period for Updated 1–100 ENERGY STAR Scores

EPA has implemented a review period for the new score models that will help ensure that the models are working as intended to deliver energy performance metrics that empower you to make the business case for operating energy-efficient buildings. EPA will work in conjunction with stakeholders and technical experts to conduct this analysis and adjust the scoring models, if needed. This will include further evaluation of score changes for U.S. buildings of different sizes, locations, and fuel mixes, as well as additional types of analysis that are possible now that stakeholders are able to update their data and calculate their revised scores in the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager software tool.

During this period, EPA will temporarily suspend awarding certifications for all U.S. property types with new score models. (This excludes hospital, senior care community, multifamily, and data centers, as well as facilities located in Canada, which will continue to be processed normally.) EPA will work to resume certification as soon as possible, and will begin accepting certification applications by property type as each model is evaluated and finalized.

Why Are My Scores Different from the Average?

The two most common questions we’ve received since the update are:

  1. My score changed more than the average published by EPA. Why?
    The averages published by EPA in advance of the updates were based on typical buildings of each type. Your building’s score change will vary from the average we published depending on its energy use, fuel mix, business activity, property type, and other variables. Furthermore, by definition, roughly half of buildings of any type should have larger decreases than average, and half should have smaller decreases than average.

  2. I’m seeing wide ranges of changes across my portfolio. Why?
    Each building’s score is dependent on its particular energy use, fuel mix, business activity, and other variables, so wide ranges are to be expected. To read more about the data analysis and model development behind the ENERGY STAR score, read our technical reference documents.

Tips on How to Increase Your ENERGY STAR score

  • Replace default values: We added a number of new required property use details for several property types, and populated these with conservative default values. Replace them with actual values to improve accuracy, and possibly your score. Learn more.
  • Benchmark data center space: If you have data center space within your building, but it isn’t metered as required for benchmarking, you have a new option to use “estimated” data to account for the high energy intensity of data center spaces, and possibly increase your score. Learn more.
  • Check data for accuracy: Confirm that all your other benchmarking data is accurate. Small errors can sometimes have a big impact.
  • Identify potential projects in your building: Find low-cost opportunities for improvements within your properties using our new Treasure Hunt resources, which many organizations have used to reduce their energy use by up to 15 percent.

If you have more questions, check out our Frequently Asked Questions, or submit your question to the experts at our Help Desk.

About the Author

Image: author Clark Reed Clark Reed serves as a national program manager for ENERGY STAR at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency where he works with hospitals to identify energy opportunities, promote energy efficiency best practices, and recognize top performing buildings.


Tip #12

Finding Energy Savings in Places You Didn’t Think to Look
By Justin Carron, Global Healthcare Segment Manager, Eaton

For most health care facility managers, just keeping the lights on is a big enough job. Ensuring smooth day-to-day operation is priority number one, and the challenges that come with the job include plenty to keep managers up at night. It feels like there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to begin to find ways to lower energy costs.

What many managers don’t realize, however, is that finding energy savings is easy if you know where to look—and where to start. Make no mistake: identifying opportunities to lower energy costs in even the simplest of places can add up to big savings.

Recently, Eaton sponsored an Energy Treasure Hunt at Northwest Hospital & Medical Center in Seattle on the heels of the ASHE 2018 Annual Conference. During the Treasure Hunt, four teams of engineers and facility managers worked to identify hidden energy savings in the facility’s energy infrastructure. The opportunities they found can be translated into opportunities for any facility. Here are some places to look.

Review HVAC Systems and Processes

For many health care facilities, checking with hospital staff and clinicians about their needs regarding HVAC processes and requirements is a worthwhile investment of time. For example, asking whether every room requires air conditioning—particularly when the room is not in use—can be a good way to limit or cut off service to areas that don’t need 24/7 air conditioning, which can lower associated energy costs.

Additionally, savings can be identified by conducting a review of disparate systems—for instance, HVAC and air ventilation systems that may not be connected—to make sure they are properly synced. An air vent that pushes air outside and opens just as the air conditioning system turns on wastes energy.

Upgrade Lighting Infrastructure

Many facilities continue to run on older, less efficient lighting systems that use a considerable amount of energy. In recent years, LED lighting has emerged as an affordable and highly efficient way to produce the same amount of light with significantly less energy. Better yet, many utilities offer rebates for customers who change to more efficient lighting.

The best way to undertake an LED upgrade is to have a complete lighting and controls strategy going into the project, rather than seeking to simply replace bulbs and fixtures ad hoc. Having a comprehensive strategy will help the manager gain a full understanding of the cost benefits and although replacing these systems may require a more extensive investment and disruption of hospital service, the potential return on that investment is significant.

Audit Equipment

Facility managers who have a strong understanding of all the equipment in use at their facilities are in a good position to grasp which equipment gets the most frequent use. For these managers, conducting a review of which equipment is used and how frequently it is used could unearth opportunities to remove excess equipment that consume a significant amount of energy but don’t provide any value to the facility.

Review Electrical Infrastructure

Many health care facilities were constructed with power management technology that is 10, 20, and even 50 years old, and electrical infrastructure has come a long way in the intervening years in terms of efficiency. Forming a closer relationship with the vendors of your electrical products and leveraging the services they offer can be an excellent way to rightsize your facility’s power infrastructure to ensure equipment is both up to code and running at optimal efficiency.

Additionally, Internet-of-Things (IoT)-enabled devices have emerged as an attractive way to modernize facility infrastructure, whether that means upgrading what is in place or replacing older technologies with newer, IoT-ready ones. These solutions can be integrated into the building management system or can be used to create a modernized power management system, allowing for greater control over energy infrastructure and, ultimately, greater energy savings.


How can health care facility managers apply some of the principles used in the recent Energy Treasure Hunt to their own facilities?

The first way is by gaining a better understanding of the systems in place, which means looking for opportunities to educate and become trained on the technologies and tools used within the facilities. And while facility managers focused on the day-to-day operation may find such an undertaking daunting, ASHE has several resources available to help facility managers better understand their infrastructure and how to get the most out of their systems.

With the right approach and a little bit of foresight, health care facility managers can identify opportunities to lower energy costs and usage within their own facilities, all of which can add up to big savings and better opportunities to reinvest money saved into improving patient care.

About the Author

Image: author Justin CarronJustin Carron, Global Healthcare Segment Manager, Eaton works with health care facility managers and executives to design power management strategies for hospitals, health networks, and other organizations across the health care landscape.



Tip #11

Maximizing Your Environment with Optimum Chiller Performance
Maximizing Your Environment with Optimum Chiller Performance By Fawn Staerkel, Director, Healthcare and Performance InfrastructureTM, Johnson Controls Building Solutions North America

When operating at maximum efficiency, chillers can create a healthier health care environment, cut energy costs, and be tailored to fit almost any need. Ensure that your chillers are working for you instead of against you by considering the following three tips.

1. Troubleshoot to identify energy waste
To mitigate potential energy-wasting issues with your chillers, regularly review their operating data and ensure they are properly maintained. Look out for undercharged machines or slight changes in approach temperature, which can be indicators of dirty or obstructed condenser or evaporator tubes. In addition, low pressure machines that operate in a vacuum are susceptible to leaks, which reduce efficiency by displacing refrigerant vapor and increasing condenser pressure and temperature.

Keep up with scheduled maintenance, and also observe how the chillers are operating – for example, are they running with the lowest possible cooling tower temperature or are they being sequenced efficiently?

2. Improve and update preventive maintenance for chillers
Traditionally, chiller operators “log” the chiller daily so they have a record of operating data and can monitor changes over time. A study of operators shows that 50 percent log their chillers on at least a daily basis. Most operators use a paper and pencil method and keep the logs in a binder near the chiller. However, the ability to access and analyze this operating data is key to being able to troubleshoot energy-wasting chiller issues; therefore having the data in a paper log in a binder next to the chiller is not the most efficient or effective practice.

With the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT), data from chillers can now be collected automatically and stored in a cloud-based analytics platform. Connecting the chiller to the cloud allows you to:

  • Send an alert to a monitoring center if a critical issue arises. The center can quickly notify the right people to take care of the problem.
  • Access the data remotely so a technician can begin troubleshooting the problem instantaneously, even if he or she is not on-site. The tech can arrive on-site prepared with the correct tools and parts.
  • Analyze the data using advanced fault detection and diagnostics algorithms, which can help identify deteriorating conditions like refrigerant leaks or fouled tubes before they cause a critical emergency.
  • Collect operating information like the average load over a 7-day period and condenser water temperature to analyze whether low-cost control strategy changes could be employed around sequencing or reducing entering condenser water temperature.

Non-destructive testing including vibration, oil and refrigerant analysis, infrared scanning, and eddy current testing are also ways to improve maintenance. The key is to perform integrated testing so that all the test results go back to a single center of excellence that analyzes each test and provides a combined report and recommendations based on the overall picture of the machine health provided by all the employed technologies.

3. Employ new-generation chillers
New generation chillers often eliminate some common maintenance issues, which helps to reduce the overall cost of ownership. For example, our YORK® YZ magnetic bearing chiller is oil-free, which eliminates oil changes and oil analysis. In addition, smarter panels feed more quality information into IoT systems, which improves predictive capabilities.

The latest generation of chillers provides efficiencies below 0.1 kW/ton and has proven performance maps that cover almost every HVAC application and operating condition. Technology developments continue to improve and optimize chiller components, but maintenance requirements remain a key factor in efficient and reliable performance throughout the life of the equipment. Tubes must be cleaned to reduce the negative effect of fouling on chiller performance, and water quality must be monitored and maintained to guarantee the integrity of chiller and variable speed drive heat exchangers.

About the Author

Image: author Fawn StaerkelFawn Staerkel, Director, Healthcare and Performance Infrastructure™ Johnson Controls Building Solutions North America, is responsible for directing the overarching strategy for health care across Johnson Controls, Inc. As “master translator,” Fawn listens to health care customers, understands JCI’s field teams, and monitors the trends and challenges in the marketplace. Fawn has more than 25 years of experience in the building industry and in supporting health care facilities and their building technologies.



Tip #10

The First Step in the “Long Push" – How to Get Started with a Self-Funded Energy Sustainability Program
By Lindsey Brackett, Health Care Facilities Operational Efficiency and Solutions Expert

The self-funded approach to an energy sustainability program is often referred to as the “Long Push” because it is a multi-year, multi-phase program carefully constructed to achieve long-term outcomes. Although various financing mechanisms can be incorporated throughout the duration of the program, projects are largely funded with accepted and accumulated energy cost savings. The idea is to start with low-cost and no-cost energy projects, begin generating energy savings early on, and then use those savings to fund projects with a longer payback or higher cost. This approach enables hospitals to reduce capital renewal and deferred maintenance backlogs without siphoning funds away from other critical projects. However, it does require discipline because mid-course changes could be counter-productive and result in catastrophic effects on the desired goals.

The self-funded energy sustainability program has two primary components: (1) a multi-year, multi-phase, long-range strategic energy and infrastructure plan, and (2) a business case to make it happen.

To get started, gather all the relevant informaation and make sense of it. Become informed by digging into whatever documentation you can get your hands on; the primary target should be utility bills. Two common metrics to become familiar with are EUI (energy use intensity) and ECI (energy cost index). A third metric to understand is FCI (facility condition index), although FCI is not as commonly used when discussing energy projects.

Energy Use Intensity (kBTU/SF/year): calculated by dividing the total energy consumed in one year by the total gross floor area of the building

Energy Cost Index ($/SF/year): calculated by dividing the total annual energy cost by the total gross floor area of the building

Facility Condition Index ($/$): calculated by dividing a building’s total maintenance, repair, and replacement deficiencies by the current replacement value of the building

Identify your current rate structure, taxes, date of last rate increase, and date of next expected rate increase. Look for billing errors, inappropriate sales tax collection, improper utility rate selection, and other no-cost or low-cost opportunities to cut expenditures.

To answer the question, “How bad is it?,” enter 12 months of utility data into the EPA ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager®. This platform will process your hospital’s information and calculate an ENERGY STAR rating so you can see how you stack up against your peers. Take this opportunity to use the ASHE Energy to Care platform, which is user friendly and beneficial in determining your energy performance.

Next, perform a comprehensive operation and maintenance benchmarking analysis. ASHE offers an excellent benchmarking tool at The benchmarking process ensures that energy efficiency and sustainability objectives are aligned with hospital staffing levels and expertise. Remember, the objective is to cut BTUs and not FTEs.

Obtain as much information as you can on your existing infrastructure and planned projects. Relevant documentation includes as-built drawings and master plans. Pull information from your CMMS like work order history, recurring issues and alarms, and any unusual override patterns. Make sure you have a detailed equipment inventory and related testing reports and maintenance logs because you will need this information to develop your long-range plan.

Once you have gathered facility information, define the magnitude of the problem and identify the root cause. Establish the key performance indicators by which you will measure the organization and calculate them for your hospital. Some questions to answer include:

  • Is the root cause on the supply side, demand side, or both?
  • Is the problem isolated or global?
  • Is your energy consumption unusually high because of a design issue, or because of deferred maintenance and failing equipment?
  • Does the issue stem from obsolete programming and rampant overrides?

Determine the primary drivers so you can fix the problem.

The final question to answer is, “What does success look like?” Common objectives include increased energy efficiency, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, reduced annual energy costs, and improved patient outcomes, occupant safety, thermal comfort, and indoor air quality. Discuss program objectives with other departments, including clinical staff and leadership, before finalizing your goals.

At this point, you have identified the problem areas, established key metrics to measure improvement, and determined the objectives that you will accomplish by implementing a self-funded energy sustainability program. You are finally ready to put all the pieces together and develop a plan.

Solutions to overcome the evident problem areas should be prioritized and phased into a long-range plan that considers budget restraints, available resources, and future infrastructure needs. Typically, the plan time frame ranges between 5 and 15 years. Start with items that require little or no cost to implement but yield a high economic benefit in their return. After your plan is developed, you can begin next step in the process: creating the business case.

About the Author

Image: author Lindsey BrackettLindsey Brackett, Health Care Facilities Operational Efficiency and Solutions Expert,
has been responsible for the development and management of more than $370 million in specialized energy solutions and infrastructure projects. Since starting her career in health care engineering consulting, she has provided health care facility managers with the tools and resources they need to make data-driven, well-informed decisions that improve their energy efficiency, building performance, and facility operations. The most recent of these solutions is a health care facility operation and maintenance training program, the first of its kind in the industry.



Tip #9

Applying Advanced Analytics to Improve Health Care Facility Operations
By James Dice, PE, CEM, CMVP, Vice President of Strategic Solutions, Sitton Energy Solutions

Energy to Care participants know the value of using utility bill data to benchmark hospital energy performance. This first step on the energy efficiency journey is viewing the hospital portfolio as from a mountaintop. Such a big-picture view helps answer questions like, “How does each hospital compare to its peers?,” and “Are there opportunities for energy savings?,” and “How much are those savings opportunities?”

To figure out exactly how to improve performance, hike down the mountain into each building. At these lower altitudes, the many hidden opportunities for savings can be uncovered. A closer view helps answer questions like, “Is the building automation system doing the right things?,” and “Have the control sequences been interfered with or overridden?,” and “Have individual components (sensors, actuators, dampers) degraded or failed?”

In the past, answering these questions has been very labor-intensive, but advances in automation and analytics software mean answers can be just a few clicks away. Today the challenge is to take advantage of the powerful technology at our fingertips to continuously improve hospital operations. Here are a few tips that have helped health care systems rise to this challenge:

1. Start with Strategy
When it comes to energy efficiency, analytics is simply one tool in the toolbox. Before putting the tool to the task, think through how analytics fits into your health care system’s comprehensive energy strategy. Fitting into the strategy will produce the highest return on investment and answer questions such as:

  • What key performance indicators are important to the organization?
  • How will we modify construction, operations and maintenance, and building automation practices to best take advantage of analytics?
  • How will we fund investments in analytics? Are incentives or rebates available?

2. Select the Right Tool for the Job
Dozens of different types of analytics software are available and new players seem to hit the market each day. The marketplace is diverse, so take time to select the best tool for your needs. As a starting point, look for the following features:

  • Fault detection and diagnostics (FDD) – the ability to automatically find patterns in system data that represent equipment failures, anomalies, or degraded performance
  • Semantic data modeling – the ability to describe the meaning of each data point in the building and use this “metadata” in the analytics itself
  • Measurement and verification (M&V) – the ability to automatically and continuously validate the results of energy savings measures

3. Build a Process and a Team Around It
Analytics software is most effective when it is implemented inside a structured, ongoing monitoring-based commissioning (MBCx) process and team. Get the following team members in place:

  1. Engaged operations and maintenance staff
  2. Responsive implementation vendors and contractors
  3. Analytics and MBCx services provider

About the Author

James DiceJames Dice, PE, CEM, CMVP, is vice president of strategic solutions at Sitton Energy Solutions. James specializes in applying advanced technology to optimize facility performance. His expertise in data analytics software, including fault detection and diagnostics algorithms, helps Sitton provide an industry-leading return-on-investment for clients.

Have a tip you want to share? We’d love to hear from you. Contact Kara Brooks at



Tip #8

You Win with People
By Marty Lanning, CMVP and LEED AP, Founder and CEO, Energent Solutions

Energy efficiency—or energy productivity, as some are beginning to refer to it—is not a race, but rather a journey for health care organizations. As in other areas of life, it takes a village or team to produce results.

Hospitals that have achieved tremendous success implementing energy or sustainability programs have the following three key attributes.

1. Vision

Leadership takes many styles. Some organizations build a program on cost savings, others use faith or mission to drive results, and some simply try to be good stewards of their communities. There is no right answer; neither is there a wrong answer. However, successful organizations have a stake in the ground, a stretch goal that is 5 to 10 years in the future. Skilled leaders summarize long-term goals into everyday language and rally their organizations around them.

What will be your “15 in 15” (referring to a 15% reduction in consumption in 15 years)?

2. Structure

Energy productivity is not a task that can be achieved alone. A successful program will take years to deliver on the objective.

Build a structure that creates accountability but not bureaucracy. An ideal scenario includes a central group that involves senior leadership and is tasked with focusing on the stretch goal. Each member of that central group should also lead or participate in subcommittees that promote activities such as employee engagement, recycling, and energy procurement that drive success of the overall stretch goal.
Structure chart
In addition to involving facility management, align contractors, utilities, purchasing, finance, hospital administration, and clinical staff to deliver results.

3. Persistence

If designed appropriately, energy programs should not create a burden on participants, but simply add focus or reward attention to detail for those involved. Most successful programs are based on incremental change or heightened focus rather than wholesale changes in operations.

About the Author

Marty LanningMarty Lanning is the founder and CEO of Energent Solutions. Under his leadership, the firm helps clients optimize energy usage to create tangible cost savings and a compelling environmental story for their brand. Last year, Energent worked with one out of five Energy Star® certified hospitals in the country, including the 2017 ASHE Energy Champion Award winner. Earlier in his career, Marty worked in the business consulting division of a Big 5 accounting firm and a Fortune 100 financial services corporation  , and led the sales organization for one of the fastest growing electrical services companies in the country. Marty holds a BSBA in finance from The Ohio State University and is in the process of completing his MBA at the University of North Carolina's Kenan-Flagler Business School.

Have a tip you want to share? We’d love to hear from you. Contact Kara Brooks at



Tip #7

Energy Procurement
By Ryan W. Ollie, CEM, CMVP, EIT, Manager of Energy Solutions, Facilities, Advocate Health Care

Demand-side energy management is often prioritized over supply-side energy management by health care facility management professionals, because demand-side management is easier to control. Simply put, the potential savings from installing a variable-frequency drive is easier to understand than the mystery surrounding energy procurement and the deregulated retail energy market. However, to execute a balanced energy management program, you must not neglect the procurement side of the business. Before I cover some important tips, I will review some basic information about the energy market.

The United States contains both regulated and deregulated markets. In regulated markets, utility companies are vertically integrated. In other words, regulated electric utilities own or control the generation, transmission, and distribution infrastructure of the power grid, while deregulated utility companies only own or control the distribution portion of the business.1

In deregulated markets, customers can purchase energy from a retail marketplace of suppliers versus only being able to purchase from the incumbent utility company in a regulated market. Since energy is traded as a commodity on an exchange, customers can implement various procurement strategies with their retailers that meet their budgetary constraints. While some customers are less risk averse  and are willing to “float” along with the ever-changing market index prices, others value budget security and choose to lock in future utility delivery prices at a premium so that they can sleep better at night. Many customers use a combination of both extremes (often called a block and index procurement strategy) and lock in a portion of their load while letting the remainder float with the market index prices.2
The following tips apply to customers that are in deregulated and semi-deregulated states.

The Retail Supplier and Customer Relationship: While securing low energy rates is extremely important, it is also equally important to select a partner that understands the complexity of the health care industry. All major suppliers should be able to provide similar market intelligence, but make sure that you are also informed about the different types of contract structures, billing options, and other value-added services that are available to customers.

Some organizations may want a supplier that offers one summary bill for hundreds of separate accounts to help streamline the payment process for the accounts payable department, while other organizations may want a supplier that creates annual budget forecasts for all of their accounts. Don’t be afraid to ask your supplier to provide an offering that meets the unique needs of your organization.

The Team: While some organizations set up formal committees of key decision makers (and sometimes external consultants) to handle energy procurement, not all organizations have the ability or resources to organize a group of this nature. At the very least, facility managers should try to develop relationships with key people in the supply chain and finance departments to add additional interdepartmental insight on best practices.  

The Strategy: The level of detail required in a procurement strategy varies from organization to organization. Some may want a formal policy visible to senior leadership, while others allow the facility management team to create their own plan. Either way, document your strategy and periodically update it as the financial circumstances change within your organization.3

To be clear, I am not an energy procurement expert; however, the above tips have helped my organization and may also be helpful in your endeavors. No one has a crystal ball in regard to energy procurement. Each organization must manage their own risk and create a strategy that works within their budgetary constraints. For more background and details on health care energy procurement, please read ASHE’s monograph Energy Procurement: A Strategic Sourcing How-To Guide.

Deregulation of electricity and natural-gas markets

1 Robin Deliso Woodcock, Regulated and Deregulated Energy Markets, Explained, (, 2014).
2 Mark Mininberg & Walt Vernon, Energy Procurement: A Strategic Sourcing How-To Guide, (Chicago, ASHE, 2017), 11.
3 Mininberg & Vernon, Energy Procurement: A Strategic Sourcing How-To Guide, 9.

About the Author
Ryan OllieRyan Ollie, CEM, CMVP, EIT currently serves as the Manager of Energy Solutions for Advocate Health Care and has been a part of their Support Services team since September of 2015. In this role, Ryan supports the Facilities, Design and Construction teams on all energy and water related items. Prior to joining Advocate Health Care, Ryan worked in various engineering roles within the MEP design and energy consulting space. In addition to these professional experiences, Ryan has also achieved the Certified Energy Manager (CEM), Certified Measurement & Verification Professional (CMVP) and Professional Engineer in Training (EIT) certifications.

Have a tip you want to share? We’d love to hear from you. Contact Kara Brooks at



Tip #6

Energy Treasure Hunts
By Clark Reed, U.S. EPA ENERGY STAR®

A building is like a treasure chest. The hidden savings can make you wealthy, but you must find it first. Just ask the facility engineers at OSF  Healthcare and Atrium Health. They created teams of energy treasure hunters who fanned out across three hospital campuses looking for easy energy-saving opportunities. They struck gold, identifying more than $350,000 in savings from operational changes and small capital projects like lighting upgrades. Most of the projects had paybacks of under one year and some even had instant paybacks by reducing airflow in unoccupied areas from an HVAC system that formerly operated 24/7/365.

St Josephs Team Treasure Hunt
On the Hunt: An energy treasure hunt team at St. Joseph Medical Center, Bloomington, Illinois.

While the main purpose of an energy treasure hunt is to identify opportunities to use energy efficiently, the longer-term value is the start of a culture change. These events begin a behavioral shift in how the organization thinks about energy use. Team work is essential; all employees (not just those in facility operations) are engaged to identify opportunities to reduce energy use. Employee involvement helps create a sense of responsibility for the solutions and sparks employee ownership of energy-saving strategies.

General Electric, one of the early adopters of treasure hunts pioneered by Toyota, trained more than 3,500 of its employees globally to think about how wasted energy and water directly affect their own jobs. That experience motivated the employees to identify more than 5,000 projects that improve energy efficiency, eliminate 700,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, and save $111 million in operational cost.

Last year, ASHE introduced the concept of energy treasure hunts to chapters competing in the Energy to Care Chapter Challenge. The Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR program conducted a four-part webinar series that explained how to plan a treasure hunt, including preparation, pre-training, the event, and follow-up. Three hospitals have already completed hunts and are in the process of implementing their findings. More hunts are being planned, including a post-conference treasure hunt on July 18 and 19, 2018 that you can join in Seattle following ASHE’s Annual Conference & Technical Exhibition. The deadline to register for the treasure hunt is June 8. For more information on how to plan an energy treasure hunt at your hospital, download a free copy of the EPA’s “Energy Treasure Hunt Guide.”

About the Author
Clark Reed serves as a national program manager for ENERGY STAR at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency where he works with commercial building partners to identify energy opportunities, promote energy efficiency best practices, and recognize top performing buildings. He manages the EPA’s efforts to establish ENERGY STAR scores for hospitals, medical offices, senior care communities, and most recently, hotels. He is a member of the ASHE Sustainability Committee and a past member of the 2007 ASHE PDC Planning Committee, the LEED Guide for Healthcare, and the Green Guide for Healthcare. Mr. Reed holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington and a master’s degree from Tufts University.

Have a tip you want to share? We’d love to hear from you. Contact Kara Brooks at



Tip #5

Setting Priorities for Efficiency
By Kathleen Stanley, CEM, CLEAResult Consulting

Kathleen Stanley from CLEAResult Consulting sat down with Sturdy Memorial Hospital’s utility manager Russ Reeves to discuss the success he has had in energy efficiency for the hospital. Russ has experienced great results over the past several years in his efforts for energy efficiency at Sturdy Memorial Hospital. He has seen an electricity usage reduction of 11.67 percent—or 1,489,000 kWh—since 2010, and an overall cost savings of $848,520. These results are quite an accomplishment for Russ’s team. Russ maintains that sticking to the fundamentals will pay off. His priorities are number 1, safety; number 2, reliability; and finally number 3, cost savings. He continues to use this hierarchy to make decisions and it has served him well. His advice for a new engineer coming into a facility is as follows:


Russ Reeves

Russ Reeves

Utility Manager
Sturdy Memorial Hospital

Russ has worked over 35 years in the Power Plant Industry and the last 6 years in Health Care. Russ holds a First Class Stationary Engineers License from the state of Massachusetts. He has taught stationary engineering and maintains a website

  • Understand that maintenance and utility costs are a financial burden on all hospitals. By improving the reliability of equipment and reducing energy costs, a manager can improve the hospital’s bottom line.
  • Learn about your systems. The more you know about the different systems, the better you will understand any weak links. Address redundancy and reliability and tie them into any capital upgrades that you pursue. In one scenario, Russ was able use a controls upgrade to improve reliability for the chiller plant, which allowed him to better use his team and implement energy savings.
  • Choose vendors that align with your goals and priorities. Vendors must share the priorities of the team and help to identify areas that can be improved, build better resiliency into the system, and step up the level of performance.
  • Gather electric and fuel bills, log data usage, and study trends. Understanding where you start is important to identifying the changes your work produces. Russ and his team have implemented many great projects such as LED lighting for outdoor spaces, LED retrofit to the hospital itself, steam trap survey and testing, and pipe and valve insulation. He ties these projects back to improvement of resiliency and redundancy when possible. A substantial amount of utility incentive also improves project financials.

  • Create an environment for your team where they want to contribute. Russ’s team knows that they always have his ear if there is an idea or an observation to share. One of his maintenance team members observed a motor running continuously on an elevator and brought this to his attention. The team corrected this problem and the savings were substantial. The problem would have been difficult to find without this maintenance team member’s awareness.

Russ is passionate about saving energy and improving the performance of his plant. His passion is contagious, and his team is proud of their accomplishments. While it gets harder to keep improving on energy efficiency once you have implemented the easier projects, this team is up to the task of continuous improvement. They are looking at CHP (combined heat and power), solar power, and the overall efficiency of their chilled water plant and improving resiliency as well.

About the Author
Kathleen StanleyKathleen Stanley, CEM, is an energy professional with more than 25 years of experience working in the energy industry. Ms. Stanley has held positions in energy utilities, ESCOs , energy efficiency firms, and energy supply companies and has owned her own energy consulting firm. Ms. Stanley has worked in sales and business development focusing on public entities, industrial users, institutional users, and other large energy users. She is a board member of the Association of Energy Engineers, New England Chapter, the chair of the AEE New England Technical Roundtable Event Series, and a past president. Ms. Stanley holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Rhode Island and is a Certified Energy Manager.

Have a tip you want to share? We’d love to hear from you. Contact Kara Brooks at



Tip #4

Sustainability Engagement Benefits & Strategies
By Shannon Bunsen, Sustainability Project Manager for Mazzetti+GBA

In 2013 the European Environment Agency reported that up to 20 percent of energy savings can be achieved by targeting behavior change. Individuals make daily decisions that affect energy consumption; when you engage individuals, you empower them to be part of the solution.

And engagement matters. Gallup research from 2012 found that organizations that scored in the top half on employee engagement scored nearly double  in customer ratings, profitability, and productivity compared with those in the bottom half. Top-scoring organizations saw lower turnover and absenteeism, and fewer safety incidents and quality defects.

In 2017 the National Environmental Education Foundation conducted a study that found a positive relationship between sustainability engagement and employee engagement. They also found that sustainability engagement positively affects almost every dimension of traditional engagement, including alignment, pride, discretionary effort, and advocacy. Nearly 90 percent of employees that were engaged in their company’s sustainability efforts said that it enhances their job satisfaction.

When engaging employees in sustainability, it’s best to use a combination of methods. Passive approaches include designing spaces for sustainable behaviors and incorporating signage or “action triggers” to turn behavior into habits. Active strategies include educating occupants and enlisting them to participate on green teams. Written communications can raise awareness, but interpersonal communication can change behavior and add much more value for the employees involved.

Implementing a variety of strategies, and doing so thoughtfully, will lead to the wide-ranging benefits that sustainability engagement has to offer.

About the Author
Shannon BunsenIn 2017, Shannon Bunsen joined Mazzetti+GBA, global provider of healthcare engineering and technology consulting, as sustainability project manager. She also leads The Sextant Foundation, a sustainable development non-profit that works in healthcare settings in the developing world. She offers more than 5 years of experience in sustainability program management. She was the University of Wisconsin Health’s first sustainability leader, a position she created. Shannon holds a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with continuing education certificates in process improvement and change management.

Have a tip you want to share? We’d love to hear from you. Contact Kara Brooks at



Tip #3

Kitchen Ventilation
By Brent Morris, West Region Business Development Manager for Intelli-Hood at Melink Corporation

Kitchen ventilation, for both exhaust and makeup air, represents a significant opportunity for kWh and kBTU reductions in health care facilities. Demand control kitchen ventilation, or DCKV for short, uses both temperature and optic sensors to vary the speed of exhaust and makeup air fans in response to the precise cooking intensity underneath kitchen hoods. Running the fans only as fast as needed provides savings on fan energy (controls produce 40% to 60% average fan speed versus 100% without controls). In addition, heating and cooling savings are gained because the kitchen isn't evacuating all the expensive conditioned air.

These controls can be installed in new construction projects, specified by the engineering firm in the design phase of your project, and should qualify for one LEED point. In addition, DCKV is a path to compliance for commercial building energy codes for states that have adopted ASHRAE 90.1 2010 and later. You can see what your state's requirements are here.

Retrofitting the temperature and optic controls within existing kitchen exhaust hoods is equally effective at generating energy savings. At the outset of a project, confirm that the controls are UL 710 and 2017 listed, which permits them to be installed in any manufacturer's hood in any cooking application. Many utility rebate incentive programs are available for the installation of DCKV.

Ultimately the goal of any DCKV project is to maximize the energy savings within the kitchen. Controls will help in compliance with building energy codes, attain LEED points, and make the kitchen much quieter and more comfortable for staff. The fall 2017 Inside ASHE article The Financial Impact of Variable Speed Ventilation Controls in Hospital Kitchens provides further information on these topics and dives deeper into how controls pay back initial investment.

About the Author
Brent MorrisBrent Morris is the west region business development manager for Intelli-Hood at Melink Corporation. He partners with VPs, directors, and managers of facilities, engineering, and operations to assist them in achieving greater energy savings within their facilities. Some of the facilities he has helped include acute care hospitals, assisted living facilities, VA medical centers, and health care property management companies such as JLL and CBRE.

Brent is a member of the American Society for Healthcare Engineering and holds a bachelor’s degree in business from Hanover College.

Have a tip you want to share? We’d love to hear from you. Contact Kara Brooks at



Tip #2

Translating the Cost of Energy Reduction
By Kara Brooks, LEED AP BD & C, ASHE Sustainability Program Manager

Health care facility professionals are often looking for ways to get the attention and support of the C-Suite for energy reducing strategies. Discussing energy savings on a square foot basis may not always get the attention desired. The EPA’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager has broken down the data for facilities in Energy Star’s Portfolio Manager in a guide, “Energy Use in Hospitals,”which helps establish the results of a facility’s efforts toward energy reduction. This is a great guide for those who want to understand the implications of energy reduction through a variety of metrics—not just those based on square footage.   To illustrate how these other metrics can be used, let’s take a look at a per-bed metric for four sample health care facilities.

A per-bed metric examines the affect that energy has per bed, not per square foot. In its “Energy Use in Hospitals” guide, the EPA states that the median beds per square foot is around 0.5 beds/1,000 square feet. This number is important as it can be used to determine the cost of energy on a per bed basis.
Similarly, the EPA states that the median number of FTEs per square foot is 2.6 FTEs/1,000 square feet. Again, we can use this number to understand the effect of energy use as it relates to number of FTEs. From there we can further understand how improving a facility’s ENERGY STAR score can help establish a business case for saving energy. The following graph depicts each of these metrics as they are compared to ENERGY STAR scores for four sample healthcare facilities with an estimated median range of staffed beds between 110 and 190:

Energy Cost Per Staffed Bed and FTE

It’s easy to see that the cost of energy drops dramatically on both a staffed bed and FTE basis as the ENERGY STAR score rises.

Why is this important to the C-Suite? The data show that even small energy reductions can make a big difference. the hospital with the ENERGY STAR score of 2, the cost per bed is about $11,700 with a cost per FTE of around $3,000. For the hospital with an Energy Star Score of 10—a relatively modest improvement—the cost per bed is $8,050 with a cost per FTE of around $1,550.
By making small changes, facilities can re-allocate their resources, allowing for additional FTEs or projects that improve patient care. Communicating the benefits of energy efficiency in this way makes a complex concept easy to understand for those who manage beds or staffing.



Tip #1

Energy Management? Where do I Start?
By Kara Brooks, LEED AP BD & C, ASHE Sustainability Program Manager

While presenting ASHE’s Sustainability programs at the ASHE Region 8 conference, I was questioned about starting an energy management program with limited resources. I would venture to say that it begins with ENGAGEMENT. I’m referring to engagement of key stakeholders in the process. Key stakeholders include those affected by energy use within the health care facility: the energy manager, maintenance staff, hospital administrators and financial managers, local utilities, auditors, and consultants. Stakeholders gain a thorough understanding of the energy that is being used through benchmarking energy use in facilities. This benchmarking information can then be used to engage stakeholders in a commitment to sustainability and the establishment of an energy management program.
One tool for benchmarking health care facilities is Energy Star’s Portfolio Manager. Currently more than 5,000 health care facilities in the United States have benchmarked their facilities in Portfolio Manager, encompassing more than 85 percent of the health care market in terms of square footage. Of these 5,000 facilities, more than 2,500 have enrolled in ASHE’s Energy to Care program (which utilizes the energy data from Energy Star’s Portfolio Manager). Top performers are translating impressive results, however the numbers of facilities eligible for Energy Star Certification represent less than 10 percent of health care facilities across the United States. The numbers are telling of the availability of improvements that are available to the health care profession.
Resources are available to facilities to help with the process of benchmarking, and ASHE and your local chapters are excited to assist you. For more information, please contact AHSE’s Energy to Care help desk at



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