Medical lab puts energy use to the test

Medical lab puts energy use to the test

Cramped office quarters and inadequate heating and cooling systems prompted Interpath Laboratory, headquartered in Pendleton, to build its own energy-efficient building with room for the company to expand.

Interpath provides clinical medical laboratory testing services for physicians in private practice. For 30 years, the company occupied leased office and lab space, which could no longer accommodate the company’s steady growth. In addition, staff struggled with inconsistent heating and cooling systems, with many employees using extra heaters and fans to keep their work spaces comfortable.

“The temperature in the lab was costly to manage,” said Jeff Wood, operations manager, Interpath. “Our testing equipment produces heat, requiring additional energy to cool the space to the right temperature. The energy costs were becoming harder to control so we knew we needed to do something to stabilize the costs.”

Energy Trust, which offers energy-saving programs and incentives to customers of Portland General Electric, Pacific Power, NW Natural and Cascade Natural Gas, provided Interpath with energy-efficiency solutions and recommendations suitable for new building construction. Interpath also received Energy Trust cash incentives of $12,679 toward the cost of the energy-saving improvements.

Interpath’s new, two-story building is 33,066 square feet—triple the size of its former space. In planning the new building, the design team addressed Interpath’s energy-efficiency needs from a function, cost and comfort perspective. Energy-efficient solutions were specified to keep the first floor lab cool while delivering more heat to the second floor office spaces. A high-efficiency HVAC unit controls heating, cooling and humidity throughout the building, with separate temperature controls for office and technical spaces.

To mitigate water use in lab processes, Interpath installed a highly efficient water heater and an energy-efficient gas-fired condensing boiler. Faucet aerators were installed in lab, bathroom and kitchen faucets to save water and reduce the amount of energy needed to heat water.

“Our employees love coming to work in our spacious new building,” said Wood. “And our energy use is down. So far we’re using the same amount of energy now as we were in our old building but with three times the space to heat and cool.”

Learn more about Energy Trust incentives for Oregon businesses.