Closing the Gap Between High Efficiency Design and High Efficiency Operations

Tip #18

By Ryan Allsop, Director, Energent Solutions

Mercy Willard is a 105,000 square foot critical access hospital located in Willard, Ohio. Built in 2012, Mercy Willard was designed from the outset as a modern, energy efficiency hospital. But its team soon discovered that there can be a big gap between design and physical real-world operations. Once they made this discovery, Mercy Willard embarked on a multi-year journey to align its operations with its high efficiency design and achieve ENERGY STAR® certification.

The journey began in 2013, after Mercy Willard’s initial benchmark score from the EPA ENERGY STAR tool came back at a disappointing 26. The team didn’t understand it. Here stood a new hospital, designed with energy efficiency in mind, somehow measuring only as highly as the bottom quarter of similar buildings. Scott McCarthy, the new facility manager in 2014, made it his mission to figure out the disconnect between the design and how the building was actually operating. He determined that the underlying issue was that, although the staff had done a great job maintaining the equipment, they were only utilizing a small portion of the controls capabilities that the design had allowed for.

Utilizing a systematic approach, Scott and his team began to take action to address the issue. Over the next couple of years, they began implementing several controls modifications, using a step-by-step process to ensure they could understand the effect of each change.

Here is a list of many of the changes Mercy Willard implemented:

  • Proper equipment schedules to match actual building operations
  • Duct static pressure reset
  • Discharge air temperature reset
  • Chilled water temperature reset
  • Daily monitoring of key indicators of a properly controlled and operated building

The key take-away from Mercy Willard’s journey is to not take a high efficiency design for granted. A building must also operate as designed to ensure that its high efficiency intent can be realized. Scott and his team realized that it was the people behind the operations who made the difference. He credits Mercy Willard’s efficiency improvements to the staff’s involvement and educating them on key aspects of the design intent.

Did it pay off? In 2017, Mercy Willard was certified as an ENERGY STAR hospital with a score of a 76.


About the Author

Ryan AllsopRyan Allsop is a Director at Energent Solutions with over 10 years of professional experience. Ryan’s background is in mechanical engineering and his experience includes HVAC design, HVAC retrofits, administering utility demand management programs, management consulting and other energy services.

Ryan is a technical lead for the nationally recognized OHA Energy & Sustainability Program which provides support to more than 60% of hospitals in Ohio. Additionally, Ryan helps manage the energy and sustainability program implementation for a Fortune 100 financial services corporation.

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