Mercy Medical Center has earned its seventh consecutive ENERGY STAR certification since 2009.

Mercy Medical Center has earned its seventh consecutive ENERGY STAR certification since 2009. Only three other hospitals in the United States have been certified each of the last seven years.

Nick Bagnolo, administrative director of plant engineering and facilities, said the certification is based on electricity, natural gas and water usage when considering the square footage of a building. A building has to score a 75 or above to get the rating.

“Mercy has scored over 80 for at least four years and we scored as high as 86 in 2010,” Bagnolo said.

The certification was given to the main hospital campus, which has one million square foot under roof with a blend of new and old construction. Bagnolo said the oldest part was built in 1918 with construction of A and C wings in the 1950s. The main building and Mercy Hall were added in the 1980s, the surgery center in the 1990s, the ICU in 2009 and the updated Emergency Department in 2013.  

“Generally people think these kind of energy efficient ratings are given to new buildings,” Bagnolo said. “Mercy had a major infrastructure update in 1993. We had two major electrical service updates with a new redundant switchgear and added electrical distribution capacity. We also put in a new 3,600 ton cooling plant, installed two new emergency generators and put in a Building Automation System (BAS) among other updates along the way.”

The BAS has helped Mercy with energy efficiency in a number of ways such as controlling air handling units, each operating room, the chilling plant and managing electric demand in real time. Bagnolo said installing the BAS was really the beginning of Mercy's energy efficiency and helped set the bar for future updates.

“We did a lighting retro fit in the 1990s. The entire hospital was retrofitted. We started using high efficiency motors and installed variable frequency drives on motors. Now we are moving to LED lighting throughout the campus. All of which is key in getting the certification,” Bagnolo said. LED lighting is being installed on the exterior of the building and in the parking lot.

All of the updates have produced a big financial benefit with savings close to a million dollars a year. Mercy has realized electrical usage savings around $560,000 a year, natural gas savings of $315,000 and water usage savings at $15,000 a year.

Mercy also has a green team that meets once a month to find green savings. The committee has developed a three-prong approach to savings such as a hospital-wide recycling program, energy conservation and buying and building green. The green team helps build employee interest and support, researches best practices, organizes key stakeholders and establishes green action plans.

As a result of the committee's efforts, the hospital has implemented green designs for the HVAC system, put UV shades on windows and departments purchase ENERGY STAR-rated appliances such as refrigerators, computers and printers.

“Prior to starting the recycling program, Mercy sent 100 tons of waste each month to local landfills,” Bagnolo said. “Today, Mercy recycles paper, cardboard, light bulbs, lab chemicals, lab packaging materials and we make notepads from recycled paper.”

According to www.energystar.gov website, the ENERGY STAR certification is “A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) voluntary program that helps businesses and individuals save money and protect the climate through superior energy efficiency.”