Kalispell Regional Medical Center: A Case Study of Energy-Saving Operational Improvements

Background

Kalispell Regional Medical Center (KRMC), located in Kalispell, Montana, is both a community hospital and a regional referral center, offering the area’s most advanced health services and medical technology. The hospital has 174 beds and over 400,000 square feet of conditioned space. Many of the buildings date back to 1975. In the last decade, the hospital launched an expansion program adding a patient tower, a new lab and expanding its central plant, cath lab and OB capacity.

As part of an agreement with the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance’s (NEEA) BetterBricks initiative, KRMC committed to a Strategic Energy Management (SEM) Plan and an energy savings goal. SEM is a comprehensive set of business tools and practices that enable hospitals to reduce energy consumption, maximize resource efficiency and lower costs. The organization incorporated SEM into many aspects of the medical center’s business including: operations and maintenance practices, capital projects, and purchasing practices. An initial scoping study of the facility was conducted to estimate the energy savings potential and identify likely areas for further investigation. KRMC also wrote, with NEEA assistance a Request for Qualification (RFQ) for commissioning services to clearly define project expectations.

Historical Energy Use before SEM
Total Annual Energy Cost $1,149,000
   
Kalispell Energy Use Index  
Electricty 100,980 Btu/sf
Natural Gas 202,480 Btu/sf
Total 303,460 Btu/sf

Hospitals constructed according to today’s energy codes typically have an Energy Use Index (EUI) between 180,000 and 200,000 Btu/sf/year. (Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey)

Existing Energy Using Systems

HVAC systems and operations represent about 50-60 percent of the total energy used at the facility. Lighting and miscellaneous other use (computers, medical equipment, cooking, laundry, etc.) make up the remainder of the annual energy use.

Lighting
T8 linear fluorescent with electronic ballasts as retrofit.

Primary Heating, Ventilating, and Air-conditioning (HVAC) Systems
Central steam plant and a central water-cooled chiller plant.
Secondary HVAC Systems
23 air handling units of various sizes.
Six water-source heat pumps remain in service from an earlier generation secondary system.
Chilled Water Plant
400-ton centrifugal chillers piped within a primary-secondary chilled water hydronic system.

Steam Plant
Three large steam boilers.
Controls
Direct Digital Controls.

Potable Water Heating Systems
Steam-driven instantaneous water heaters.

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