Cleantech Market Intelligence
An Energy Cure for Hospitals
When it comes to energy reduction in buildings, friendly competition is a strategy that gains a lot of visibility. In recent blogs, here and here, we’ve discussed how the U.S. Department of Energy has set up competitions for financial institutions and office buildings to become as efficient as possible. Companies like Opower rely on peer pressure to help communities lower their residential energy bills. The latest to join in the fray are U.S. hospitals.
The Energy to Care program, run by the American Hospital Association, takes a slightly more advanced route to creating an energy reduction competition between buildings. The Better Buildings Challenge relies on buildings uploading their ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager data (either automatically or by hand) into the system and then submitting the results to be a part of the competition. In Energy to Care, the ENERGY STAR benchmarking data is only the first part of the competition, and the approach used can be adapted as a real building energy management system (BEMS) to aid in ongoing energy savings.
The latest Energy to Care program is built on top of Lucid Design’s BuildingOS platform, a BEMS solution that makes integrating data from building energy systems easy and fast. Lucid Design made its name by engaging through the development of their dashboards, commonly found in universities and government buildings. BuildingOS offers tools to integrate data from multiple sources, including building automation systems, plug-load monitors, and renewable power generators. Along with the data integration are visuals and analytics that can aid facility managers and sustainability professionals in their efforts to improve building performance and reach sustainability goals.
Hospitals are in need of this kind of care. As the second-highest user of energy among all building types in terms of energy intensity and the consumers of 4% of all U.S. energy, hospitals need to leverage these tools to reduce the $8.8 billion a year in energy costs the industry shoulders. Given the competiveness in the healthcare market, every dollar saved on operations is welcome.
In Energy to Care, the Portfolio Manager data is incorporated in BuildingOS. Depending on the richness of the data uploaded, the hospital then has access to analytics and graphics that can quickly identify problems associated with energy use in the building. Hospital energy managers can understand which systems are consuming more power and when power use varies beyond expected levels over the course of a day or week. The ease of integration of these tools will make energy conservation measures easy to identify and their effectiveness measurable in the long run. While Lucid Design will benefit from the widespread deployment of its product, the hospitals, and in turn the public, will benefit from reduced costs.