CANTON  Mercy Medical Center recently became one of just three hospitals in the United States - and the only in Ohio - to earned its ninth consecutive ENERGY STAR certifications.

Nick Bagnolo, vice president of construction at Sisters of Charity Health System stated that ENERGY STAR certified buildings and plants are verified to perform in the top 25 percent of buildings nationwide, based on weather-normalized source energy use that takes in account occupancy, hours of operation and other key metrics. It’s the only certification in the U.S. based on actual, verified energy performance.

"Our main campus is one million square feet, blending old and new construction and we have saved more than $1 million in energy costs for a total of close to $9.5 million since receiving the first certification in 2009," Bagnolo said.

Bagnolo said building ages start with the first building in 1918 and construction of additional wings and sections in 1952, 1954, 1967, 1970, 1982, 1997 and 2009.

"Generally, people think these kind of energy efficient ratings are given to new buildings. People interested in obtaining the rating shouldn’t be discouraged because they are working with an older facility," Bagnolo said.

He lists four major initiatives that are responsible for the savings and for the rating. First, the building automation system that controls the air handling units for the heating and air conditioning throughout the hospital.  Second, is the lighting retrofit started in 1990 where the light bulbs and fixtures were replaced with energy efficient lighting.

Mercy started two years ago retrofitting again, this time with LED lighting. A third upgrade was with the variable frequency technology for motors on air handlers, exhaust fans and pumps throughout the hospital. Fourth, Bagnolo credits the motion sensors used in low occupancy areas of the hospital where the lights turn off when a room is not in use.

Mercy also has a green team that finds savings through recycling and other sustainable green initiatives. The team has helped the hospital start recycling glass, aluminum, plastics, paper, light bulbs, batteries, cardboard and lab chemicals keeping thousands of pounds of waste out of landfills.

There are a number of upgrades and implementations in the works for the future. Bagnolo said Mercy will continue to use energy efficient materials and processes on all new projects. Plus, they are considering trying for a LEAD Certification on select projects.

"We’re going to continue with our retrofitting to LEDs, I’d like to use the automation system to control lighting, we’re looking at a more efficient boiler and I’m sure the recycling program will continue to evolve especially in our cafeteria and the recycling of our Styrofoam," Bagnolo said. "All of our efforts also benefit our patients, especially the building automation system. We are better able to control set points to allow better temperature control. Our patient calls about temperature in the rooms have gone way down."

According to 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."