5 Effective Ways Healthcare Facilities can Improve Energy Efficiency
Healthcare facilities are facing unique operational challenges on numerous fronts due to the nature of the industry, and the processes that require a non-stop influx of energy. Needless to say, property developers and investors need to take into account the key sustainability considerations when investing in the healthcare sector from the get-go in order to create a truly energy-efficient infrastructure, but that doesn’t mean that healthcare facilities can’t optimize consumption and integrate energy-efficient solutions down the road, as well.
When introduced in the conception phase, BIM can facilitate accurate energy modeling, analysis, and simulation, that can significantly influence the development process and help prevent extraneous expenditure. However, BIM can also be used to assess the energy consumption of an existing healthcare facility, so let’s delve deeper into the subject matter and tackle the problem of energy-efficiency, and how facilities can leverage BIM and other key solutions to achieve higher levels of efficiency.
Setting energy use goals and ensuring accountability
First and foremost, it is imperative that all healthcare facilities set reasonable and attainable goals when it comes to monthly and annual energy consumption. The top-level management should be tasked with obtaining professionals who can accurately measure the average energy expenditure of the facility as well as the individual floors, departments, and units, in order to generate a comprehensive energy overview that will serve as the basis for future energy consumption targets. However, it’s also important that the top-level managers ensure facility-wide accountability through professional energy monitoring.
If industry professionals are not included in this process, then there is no viable measurable way to monitor energy expenditure, make timely adjustments and introduce new conservation policies, or kick-start facility-wide reforms that will ensure sustainability five or ten years down the road. Making everyone accountable and staying on top of your energy use while setting clear goals is, therefore, the first step you need to take towards long-term energy efficiency.
Leveraging BIM technology and processes
Building information modeling (BIM) is one of the comprehensive solutions that has the capacity, resources, and technology necessary to create a bird’s eye view of the facility’s energy use, and map out the most problematic areas that require your immediate attention. What’s more, BIM has the capacity to run full-scale audits through comprehensive simulations to help with energy allocation, distribution, and optimization across the facility, meaning that executives can optimize energy use per the need of individual departments and units located in and around the building.
The result is a more efficient system as a whole, one that ensures that the right areas of the facility always get the right amount of electricity needed to maintain operational efficiency without the risk of needless overconsumption. BIM technology can also help executives map out a long-term plan for higher sustainability and energy-savings that requires regular micro-investments instead of large-scale projects.
Optimizing interior and exterior with energy-efficient lighting
Among the most important solutions that executives have to integrate into their operations is the shift towards efficient and sustainable lighting schemes. Given the fact that modern medical facilities have a high standard for illuminaries and that lighting is one of the most important features of a well-functioning facility (which also undergoes rigorous inspection and needs to be up-to-code), manufacturers nowadays are focusing on producing top-of-the-line medical lighting that meets the necessary industry standards while at the same time helps with energy savings and longevity.
With that in mind, it’s important for executives to start upgrading the interior and exterior lighting schemes with more contemporary solutions, in order to set the stage for financial savings in the years to come. This will also allow the entire facility to run more efficiently, and prevent premature lighting problems and the costly repairs that follow.
Identifying energy and electricity leaks
Another crucial consideration for all medical facilities is how much energy is wasted on a daily, monthly, and annual level. The key objective here is to identify those small energy leaks that go by unnoticed, yet end up inflating your electricity bills down the road. You can achieve this with BIM, or by hiring professionals to run room-by-room energy audits that will tell you exactly where these energy leaks occur on a daily basis. With this information in hand, you can plug these leaks one by one, and thus create a more efficient infrastructure.
Measuring performance and improving as necessary
When you have identified all energy leaks and energy-heavy areas, allocated energy resources accordingly, upgraded your lighting, and fixed every small energy leak, then you have to start monitoring the performance of your new infrastructure diligently to see whether or not your investment is producing the expected returns. This will allow you to stay agile and flexible should any new problems arise, and you will know exactly what to do when they occur.
Healthcare facilities consume vast amounts of energy on a daily basis, but that doesn’t mean that they are inherently wasteful. In fact, you can create a more sustainable energy model by implementing these solutions in 2020, which will pay off over the short, mid, and long term.