Cutting-edge hybrid energy plant leads the way at Norton Audubon Hospital
With rising energy costs and aging infrastructure, Norton Healthcare saw an opportunity to enact an energy initiative to upgrade to energy-efficient equipment and other conservation measures. The result has been reduced energy and maintenance costs, a lower carbon footprint, enhanced indoor air quality and maximized patient comfort.
When Norton Healthcare made the decision to renovate and expand Norton Audubon Hospital, it expected an increase in energy consumption and utility costs. Adding a 75,000-square foot, 74-bed tower is a significant project that would have meant an additional $300,000 a year in energy costs alone.
Instead, with its new hybrid energy plant, thermal storage and a few other upgrades, the hospital expects to save close to $400,000 this year, even with a projected 3 percent increase in utility costs.
“We constructed a new hybrid energy plant that combines gas air-cooled chillers and a thermal ice storage system that produces cooling capacity for the building,” said Anthony Mathis, director,of Energy. “Ice is made at night when utility costs are at their lowest, since demand is down, and then ice is melted during the day for the hospital’s cooling needs during the peak hours when utilities are at their maximum cost.
“In addition, the system runs off of natural gas. The heat generated by the natural gas engines is then collected and stored to be reused by a heat recovery process that provides heat and hot water for the building.”
The result? Savings equivalent to the cost of 113,087 gallons of gasoline or 2,327 barrels of oil or 215 passenger cars driven for one year. The hybrid energy plant was designed, engineered and constructed by Harshaw Trane.
The hospital also has added new, more efficient air-handling units with the ability to control temperature in different areas of the hospital by computer.
“Building automation now allows us to minimize conditioning areas and rooms not in use to conserve energy and operate more efficiently,” Mathis said. “It’s like a programmable thermostat in a home: In the summer, you would program it to be warmer when you’re not there, and cooler when you are.”
Further enhancing energy savings are a conversion to LED lighting, along with improvements to the building envelope and windows.
The next step is to attain Energy Star certification, a national recognition that represents energy efficiency. Currently, only four health facilities in Kentucky hold that designation: Norton Brownsboro Hospital; St. Luke Hospital East in Fort Thomas, Kentucky; Saint Joseph London Hospital in London, Kentucky; and Clark Regional Medical Center in Winchester, Kentucky. Norton Brownsboro Hospital also is LEED certified for sustainability in design, construction, operation and maintenance.
Norton Healthcare’s four other hospitals — Norton Brownsboro Hospital, Norton Children’s Hospital, Norton Hospital and Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital — are in the process of upgrading to more efficient air handlers and converting to LED lighting. These upgrades and energy conservation measures systemwide will save the organization approximately $1 million a year on utilities.
The Louisville Energy Alliance, which promotes energy efficiency and conservation efforts, presents the annual Kilowatt Crackdown, a citywide competition to decrease energy use in commercial buildings. For its efforts, Norton Audubon Hospital was named the 2017 Kilowatt Cup Winner, the competition’s top award. Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital was named Best Performer in the Healthcare Facility category.