Hospitals discover lowering HVAC costs saves energy

Healthcare facilities that implement energy conservation measures outperform their competitors by as much as 10% in net operating income, accord to EPA research.

01/05/2011


A hospital can be a stressful place — not just for patients who come for treatment, but for administrators faced with increasing HVAC costs and decreasing budgets. Energy use, in particular, is a large expense; indeed, healthcare-related research from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program shows that energy consumption per square foot in hospitals is far higher than in many other type of building. Little wonder when you consider hospitals 24/7 operation and demanding requirements for air filtration. Risk of infection, after all, must be kept to a minimum, which means carefully filtering dangerous particles from the air.

But EPA research also shows that healthcare facilities that implement energy conservation measures outperform their competitors by as much as 10% in net operating income. Saving energy isn’t just good for the environment — it’s good for the bottom line.

Yet how do hospitals get there? How do they achieve better energy efficiency and see lower HVAC costs without sacrificing performance? Answering that question is particularly important when it comes to hospital air filtration, as only superior-quality systems can meet the requirements for patient care. Healthcare facilities depend on High Efficiency Particulate Air filtration (HEPA) — achieving a 99.7% efficiency — to prevent the spread of disease. But these air filtration systems can have great energy demands. And the strict indoor air quality required by operating rooms, emergency rooms, intensive care units, and laboratories — typically requiring 20 to 30 air changes per hour — stress budgets even further.

The answer lies in a single word: sustainability. Air filtration systems that are designed to work more efficiently, and use less energy, can do the job hospitals need at far reduced cost. Consider, for example, Camfil Farr clean air solutions — designed from the ground up with sustainability and energy efficiency in mind. Hospitals using Camfil Farr air filters are already seeing their HVAC costs drop by 15 to 30 percent. The filters use innovative technology to provide peak performance throughout their lifecycle — in stark contrast to traditional hospital air filters which degrade in efficiency over time. Camfil Farr filters need to be replaced less often — so disposal, maintenance, and replacement costs are also reduced along with energy expenses. For any healthcare facility, these are savings that quickly add up.

One of the challenges for hospitals embracing sustainability is to see how the new designs, products, and systems can pay off down the road. So Camfil Farr has introduced several tools to help healthcare facilities calculate these savings. Its Life Cycle Cost (LCC) software projects the precise cost of any air filtration system (Camfil Farr’s or a competitor’s) over the lifetime of that unit. It factors in real-world outdoor air characteristics, hours of operation, and costs for filters, labor, disposal, and energy. The software also takes into account installation issues, duct condition, and filter change outs. The LCC program lets hospitals see long-term expenses — which are a much more accurate benchmark for costs than initial price alone. Meanwhile, Camfil Farr’s mobile filter testing lab lets healthcare facilities test four combinations of filters simultaneously, under identical circumstances.

The results of these tests provide something decision-makers at healthcare facilities urgently need: an objective, scientifically valid comparison between products, making sure that hospitals make the purchase that works best for them today — and tomorrow to reduce HVAC costs.



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