Category: Retrofit

Optimizing HVAC in the Growing Health Care System


Hospitals and health systems have become a noticeably booming industry. New health care facilities are sprouting up everywhere, from huge downtown medical districts to local branches in smaller communities. Unfortunately, a hovering cloud of worry follows the excitement for these new developments—expanding or opening these new health care buildings is a very expensive process. There are several components necessary for successful construction, primarily because once these heath systems projects are completed they automatically transition into mission critical situations with no room for error. Because of these mission critical scenarios, extensive research on central plant equipment is necessary in order to determine the most reliable and resilient investment in air and waterside regulation and circulation.

Optimizing these HVAC components is one way to ditch the long term expenses while implementing a quality solution. Saving money on unnecessary utility charges will cut central energy plant costs while keeping the building at the required comfort levels. The newly published Energy Retrofit Guide builds on this concept and outlines ways to optimize outdated and inefficient existing facilities, boosting scalability as well.

tekWorx engineers evaluate, assess, and retrofit old systems to improve redundancy and improve system efficiency. Proper management of utilities and plant operations are critical to keep this thriving health care industry prosperous. HVAC optimization is a way to keep these buildings sterile, safe, and secure for not only the patients, but for the preservation of the equipment and technology as well.

To read about some examples on how health care systems have improved their energy consumption via HVAC improvements check out this article from!

Hunting for Energy Efficiency

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The latest in innovative system management for large chilled water systems is derived from the notorious lean manufacturing model developed by Toyota. Only recently working its way into the realm of plant optimization services, this take on kaizen has been adapted by EnergyStar to help commercial/industrial plants reduce CHW pumping electrical energy. Known as treasure hunts, this strategy utilizes cross-functional teams of employees to discover and assess all uses of energy in their facilities. This effort empowers the employees while undertaking a site-wide effort to uncover opportunities for eliminating excessive energy consumption. Energy savings through these treasure hunts has reached the million dollar mark and, at the same time, companies are successfully minimizing greenhouse gas emissions and conserving natural resources. The treasure hunts are typically broken up into four phases: preparation, pre-training, the actual event, and follow-up. Scheduled meetings are set to assess the current conditions of the central plant, document problem/issue areas and assigned them to teams. Lastly, EnergyStar suggested three-day onsite event takes plant in which energy saving opportunities are identified, presented, and later reported on in the follow-up stage.

Many high profile companies, including GE, Merck, and Hanes Brand, have begun using this process, savings big by identifying the ‘low hanging fruit’ that improves energy plant efficiency. These treasure hunts stand apart from a typical energy audit in that employee engagement is at an all-time high during the process, more direct operational improvements can be determined, and minimal capital improvements are required as the team focuses on existing equipment.

tekWorx goes through similar treasure hunts when working with facility employees to discuss central plant conditions and capital expenditure avoidance. Treasure hunts are a great way to find simple, yet impactful reductions in energy consumption without big alterations, perfect for those smaller facilities who are limited in optimization opportunities or those whose budgets don’t allow for a much needed controls retrofit. For everything else, tekWorx has you covered.

To view EnergyStar’s best practices, visit their guide to successful treasure hunts.

Issues with Primary and Secondary Chiller Plants

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An energy efficient design is the last thing on a property owners’ mind during the construction of a chilled water plant. Typically, the chief concern revolves around keeping construction costs to a minimum, ignoring future utility costs and energy efficiency considerations that are critical once a building is fully functioning. Due to this altered focus, chiller systems have historically been built using the classically inefficient “primary/secondary” (P/S). This configuration simply makes sure the building doesn’t run out of cooling on the hottest day of the year and gives no consideration to the expense of this strategy.

With respect to energy, one of the greatest causes for concern with these P/S systems is what is known as blending. Blending occurs as the chilled water combines with warmer water, thereby decreasing the temperature of the return water into the chiller. Because the chillers outputs are spec’d based on a designated temperature set point, energy is being wasted as the system fights to maintain its set point with the influx of warmer water.

To combat this issue, tekWorx has developed an “Integrated Primary/Secondary” retrofit design (IPS®) that brings valuable primary energy benefits to existing primary/secondary systems. Depending upon the specifications of a system, the IPS® substantially improves flow and reduces blending. The IPS® requires minor mechanical/piping changes and control system modifications, keeping the overarching facility infrastructure intact with minimal interruption to the current cooling operations. To see how tekWorx IPS™ can improve your ∆ T, fill out our Chiller Plant Evaluation Form.