Doubled savings for Waikato DHB
An energy-saving project at Waikato District Health Board’s main hospital has delivered double projected savings.
The initiative was commercially attractive on paper but because of the requirement for hospitals to prioritise spending towards such things as hip operations, rather than energy saving, it needed support from the Energy Electricity and Conservation Authority (EECA), EECA General Manager Greg Visser said.
Savings to upgrade to efficient air conditioning chillers at Waikato hospital’s Waiora Building came in above target at $79,000 a year, giving the project a payback of under four years.
Even better, streamlining the building controls to better suit the changed functions of the building resulted in additional savings of $88,000 a year over and above those achieved by the new air conditioning chiller.
Support for the project came through EECA’s Crown Loans, where public sector agencies can access interest-free loans to invest in energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy technology.
Hospitals, universities, local government and other public agencies can apply for funding for a range of projects from swapping anything from swapping an inefficient boiler for modern heat pumps, to assisting an investment in electric vehicles.
“Invariably, entities such as hospitals and universities have higher priorities than saving energy,” said Mr Visser. “But these targeted, interest-free loans mean funding is not diverted from core priorities. The loans are paid back with savings from the project. Indeed, the ongoing energy savings allow more money to go into those priority needs.”
EECA research shows that public sector organisations, just like any large energy using business, can save up to 20% of the energy they use through smarter energy use. Usually, there are considerable spin-off benefits, such as improved patient comfort through better building lighting, heating and cooling.
EECA account manager Dane Fredriksson said getting engineering and maintenance staff around the table, together with an expert energy consultant allowed the group to identify the additional savings.
“It proved a very low cost option to get additional savings.”
Saving energy in partnership with EECA is not new to Waikato DHB. Energy efficiency projects since July 2015 had slashed energy costs by $300,000 a year.
In the past five years, 38 public sector projects have received Crown loans, resulting in cumulative savings of $9 million and carbon reductions of over 5,000 tonnes each year.