How a spoonful of EECA makes more medicine go down for DHBs

Saving millions of dollars per year on energy has meant one of the largest district health boards in New Zealand is able to spend that money elsewhere. It’s a bright idea they say anyone should think about.

When you’re saving lives on a daily basis, saving energy may not seem like a top priority. But it turns out a quick energy health check of a hospital can save money, increase staff productivity and give patients a better experience.

The Capital and Coast District Health Board (CCDHB) has been able to do just that, with a little help from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA).

The CCDHB serves a population of over 300,000 people living in the Wellington region – not to mention employing about 4,000 full-time staff.

It understood energy savings of potentially up to 10 percent every year were possible, many of which were through technology upgrades and energy management improvements.

Under their energy management programme, CCDHB has developed a comprehensive and long-term energy management Statement of Intent, with the goal of reducing energy use by 40 percent by 2021. A key component identified as critical to its success is the partnership with EECA.

Clews says access to EECA’s technical expertise, co-funding and network were valuable in making improvements. “They’ve been excellent to work with,” he says. “You can’t work in isolation on something of this scale.”

Since the partnership with EECA began, the CCDHB has been able to save almost $1 million of energy across gas and electricity.

“It’s a pretty significant amount when you consider we spend just under $5 million on energy each year. Electricity and gas is essential for our buildings,” he explains. “But we need to reduce our energy costs.”

As part of CCDHB’s efforts to reduce energy some of the identified changes were surprisingly simple such as installing LED lighting (saving approximately $37,000 per year). More complex were projects such as recalibrating the ventilation controls in the underground car park at Wellington Regional Hospital (saving nearly $10,000 per annum) and upgrading the building management systems which control air quality and temperature (saving approximately $11,500 per month).

“Our single largest opportunity to save money was at the Wellington Regional Hospital,” explains Clews.

“We were able to identify more efficient strategies to control the environment which significantly reduced our demand for gas and electrical energy on heating and ventilation systems.”

These new strategies resulted in verified reductions of 35% of total electricity consumption across the mechanical systems i.e. fan and pump motors, in this building.

CCDHB has avoided 11 GWH of energy consumption across gas and electricity since starting the work in 2013. In terms of environmental benefits, the CCDHB has reduced its carbon footprint by over 980 tonnes per year as a result of the changes, most of which was made possible by accessing low interest Crown loans from EECA.

And Clews says there have been other positives as well. “We have seen a very large reduction in environmental complaints. This means both our clinical and maintenance staff are able to focus on other priorities.”

To find out more about how EECA Business can help your business manage energy better, visit www.eecabusiness.govt.nz.