Energy Efficiency Built Into Swedish Issaquah

September 9, 2010 Swedish Blogger

Lee Brei, Swedish’s director of Facility Services, and Susan Gillespie, senior project manager for the Swedish Issaquah campus, are on a mission. They intend to make Swedish’s first major Eastside site the most energy-efficient facility in the region.

Swedish broke ground last October for a new 175-bed hospital and five-story medical office building (MOB) on 12.5 acres just off I-90/Exit 18. It is the first full-scale medical complex to be built in King County in more than 25 years. Plans call for 500,000+ square feet of built space, with the MOB targeted to open in July 2011 and the hospital seven months later.

“We have one chance to do this project right and take advantage of the best practices in new hospital construction,” explains Gillespie. “The key goals are to integrate advanced technologies and processes that significantly reduce energy consumption, cut our carbon footprint, and lower overall operating costs so we can provide the most cost-effective care.”

Brei adds, “The Issaquah Highlands is known for its ‘green’ building strategies, so we’ll fit right in with the community perception of what a new facility should be.”

Hospitals spend more on energy per square foot than any other commercial building type, notes the American Society of Heating Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers.

How It All Started

The planning team used computer simulation models to assist, among other things, in creating an efficient building envelope, setting insulation requirements for walls and ceilings, and selecting high-efficient heating/cooling equipment and lighting systems to maximize energy performance.

Patients, staff, physicians and visitors will all benefit from the energy efficiencies. The Issaquah buildings will be cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Swedish targeted a 10-year payback for its investment in energy efficiency and will easily meet that, says Brei. The entire hospital is designed for flexibility and adaptability, as Swedish’s needs change in the future. Most patient rooms are the same size, so very little additional construction or retrofitting will be required.

From the outset, Swedish worked closely with regional electricity and gas utility Puget Sound Energy (PSE). Engineer Holly Townes was PSE’s liaison to the project, and she and her team helped Swedish apply for up to $4 million in grants and rebates from the utility to fund the energy-improvement initiatives.

“We are particularly interested in working with hospitals because they’re so energy hungry,” Townes explains. “It’s conceivable that PSE will underwrite 100 percent of Swedish Issaquah’s investment in energy-efficient upgrades.”

Core Components

Here are some of the key elements that will help make Swedish Issaquah an energy conservation leader.

* Hydronic heating. In the MOB, Swedish and Hammes Company decided to install an advanced hydronic heating system instead of traditional electric radiant heat.
* Ventilation. Swedish worked hard to reduce building ventilation requirements. Outside air needs to be heated and cooled, but the design team was able to reduce the amount of potential air ‘re-heat’ required.
* In the main hospital, Swedish will install high-efficiency, heat-recovery chillers that capture waste heat to help heat the buildings and water.
* The main hospital will have high-efficiency, variable air volume systems that create more effective air-delivery and provide better control of room pressures.
* Swedish has ordered much more advanced boilers and stands to gain at least a 15 percent improvement in operating efficiency.
* Green roof. On the flat podium between the building towers, plans call for 6,000 square feet of landscaped area with abundant plant life and greenery. “It will be a beautiful open field that will help keep the whole campus cooler,” says Gillespie.
* Building commissioning is vital to verifying Swedish Issaquah’s operational efficiency – and it can have a 30-percent positive impact on energy use. Swedish wanted to monitor all systems and control them properly, so PSE suggested outside verification and was able to fund 50 percent of the commissioning costs.
* Windows. The hospital is oriented to get full sun on three sides and will have a daylight basement, which is a huge benefit for staff and patients.
* Swedish incorporated fairly extensive electrical sub-metering throughout the campus. A controls engineer on staff will set all the monitoring points and then can easily evaluate real-time usage data.
* ENERGY STAR® Equipment and other miscellaneous efficiency measures. On the non-medical side, Swedish specified high-efficiency lights, appliances, fixtures and motion/occupancy sensors where appropriate – along with energy-performance monitoring systems.
* User Training. A final component is educating all Swedish Issaquah staff on the easy things everyone can do to conserve energy, including turning off lights and equipment when not in use.

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