The Samaritan Health Services hospitals in Albany and Lebanon are integral to the health and wellbeing of the communities they serve. The Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital is a small rural hospital serving east Linn County communities, while the Samaritan Albany General is an acute care facility and health center providing medical services to the greater Albany area. In response to increased demand for the hospitals’ services, Samaritan Health looked to minimize energy use to help reduce costs and reallocate funds to improve the quality of patient care.
“Energy efficiency is a priority for facility managers. It’s been a cornerstone of our planned capital improvement projects,” said Samaritan Health’s energy manager, Michael Martin, who recently retired after managing facility operations for over 20 years.
Samaritan Health’s long-standing dedication to energy efficiency made participating in Energy Trust of Oregon’s Strategic Energy Management (SEM) offering an easy choice. SEM educates businesses and organizations on how to make lasting operational changes that save energy. By utilizing the educational workshops, tools and resources available through SEM participation, the Samaritan Health facilities teams were able to gain a better understanding of the energy required to operate their respective facilities and how to optimize equipment so it operates at peak efficiency.
SEM helps organizations save money and improve operations
Lebanon Community Hospital’s engineering services manager, Layne Hayes, says participating in SEM gives him and his team the valuable knowledge they need to communicate the importance of improving efficiency. “SEM helps us educate administrators about equipment health and how upgrades will save us money in the long run,” he said.
Like many other SEM participants, Samaritan Health facilities staff realized the work they were doing aligned closely with the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) 50001 Ready program. The 50001 Ready program provides organizations with a framework to help them establish energy management systems that reinforce long-term savings. SEM participation helped the Albany and Lebanon hospitals get 75% of the way to ISO 50001 compliance. Through SEM and the 50001 Ready Program, Samaritan Health has developed energy-efficient practices that will save the organization energy, improve staff and patient comfort, and lower utility costs for years to come.
Getting field-tested practices that are proven to save energy in place was something Samaritan Health maintenance staff wanted to see as a result of participating in SEM. They recognized there was practical knowledge about energy efficiency they stood to gain that would be beneficial to not only them but the entire organization as well. “Energy efficiency fits right into our sustainability goals and helps us be better stewards of our environment,” said Martin. “Becoming more sustainable is the driving force behind our participation in SEM.” Samaritan Health has received nearly $54,000 in SEM incentives for the Albany and Lebanon hospitals since the organization began participating in 2020.
Check high and low for sources of energy waste
Participation in SEM helped Samaritan Health energy teams develop the habit of proactively seeking out available cash incentives for energy-saving equipment installations that would reduce energy consumption and improve the organization’s bottom line. As a result, Samaritan Health completed several projects using Energy Trust cash incentives to reduce their out-of-pocket costs.
1. Steam traps
After speaking with an Energy Trust energy advisor about incentives for energy-efficient steam traps, or valves that remove condensation that builds up in steam systems, the facilities team at Albany General Hospital surveyed their existing steam traps.
Staff determined the steam traps were failing and brought in a contractor, who confirmed they were stuck open. There was no condensation to release, as steam was blasting out of them 24/7. Replacing the traps improved the hospital’s energy efficiency because, as more steam is conserved, the boilers run less frequently, using less energy.
Samaritan Health will save nearly $48,000 a year on energy costs thanks to the new steam traps. This project, which Samaritan Health received over $7,500 for, allowed maintenance staff to establish a preventative maintenance routine to ensure the steam traps remain functioning, which is crucial for meeting the hospital’s temperature and humidity requirements.
2. Roof insulation
Albany General Hospital’s old, leaky roof needed to be replaced, along with the roof insulation. “When we assessed the extent of the issues with the roof, we discovered a lot of the insulation was rotten or just wasn’t there anymore,” said Martin. Whenever it rained, engineering operations manager Eric Carpenter says his staff had to “regularly empty 16 buckets on the top floor that were collecting rainwater.”
After learning there were incentives available for energy-efficient roof insulation, the facilities team at Albany General Hospitals realized there was an opportunity to reduce the cost of their ongoing roofing project. Because the staff learned about available incentives before the project was complete, Samaritan Health ended up saving over $15,000 on new roof insulation.
When the roof of the building adjacent to Albany General Hospital was being replaced in 2023, Samaritan Health staff were ready to repeat the process. For this project, Samaritan Health received more than $6,000 in roof insulation incentives. In total, Albany General Hospital will save over $4,000 a year on energy costs because of these roof insulation projects.
3. Commercial pump variable frequency drive
The temperature sensors on the well pump supplying water to the cooling tower and irrigation at Lebanon General Hospital were broken, forcing the pump to operate around the clock at full speed. When the cooling tower didn’t need water to condition the air in the hospital or the irrigation system to help maintain the grounds, the water being pumped was going down the drain.
The new variable frequency drive that Samaritan Health installed alongside the replacement well pump will save the hospital $3,000 in annual energy costs in addition to dramatically reducing the hospital’s water consumption. The facilities team estimates Lebanon General Hospital is saving 20,000 gallons of water a day from being wasted thanks to this project.
Energy Trust incentives and other resources can get your project off the ground
For large energy consumers like Samaritan Health, pursuing energy-saving upgrades whenever possible can help facility managers maximize operational efficiency. Energy Trust can even help organizations calculate how much energy a project will save and determine the return on investment.
With potential remodel projects on the horizon at these hospitals and other Samaritan Health facilities, Carpenter already has his mind on how Energy Trust’s involvement could help make these capital improvements a reality. “My team has begun discussions with Energy Trust to see how we can make the new roof of another building on the Albany General campus more efficient,” Carpenter said. “We’re looking forward to learning what opportunities with Energy Trust are available to us.”
Visit www.energytrust.org/commercialSEM for more information about participation in Energy Trust’s SEM offering. Explore the Oregon Cash Incentives page to learn what energy-efficient equipment upgrades your medical facility can save on. For questions or assistance getting started, email our team at email@example.com.