By applying energy efficiency upgrades throughout their facilities, business and organizations can slash their top operational costs. These upgrades can vary from LED lighting and lighting controls to water heating equipment and refrigeration motors and HVAC equipment. Certain organizations, such as healthcare facilities, can uniquely benefit from energy-efficiency upgrades, not only from a profits perspective, but also from a patient and visitor comfort perspective, and being recognized as eco-friendly.
Healthcare buildings rely on high-performance lighting and other equipment to operate resulting massive energy consumption. Based on data from the Department of Energy (DOE), on average, hospitals use 2.5x the amount of energy as other commercial buildings—lighting consuming 21 percent of annual energy usage. Because these facilities operate 24/7, their energy bill reflects their excessive energy consumption. Healthcare organizations spend over $6.5 billion on energy every year, and that amount only continues to grow with an increasing demand to meet patients’ needs.
Money lost as a result of large utility costs is often made up from budget cuts to other areas, which could mean cuts to quality of life, cuts to safety, or even cuts to staffing. Organizations can avoid such cuts through the implementation of energy efficient upgrades. In addition to dollar savings, energy efficiency improves the appearance of the space, occupant safety, patient comfort, and is good for the environment.
Some of energy efficiency’s biggest benefits to healthcare facilities:
Creates a Welcoming Environment
Waiting rooms outfitted with old, gloomy light fixtures feel uninviting and grim to potential patients. LEDs can enhance and brighten the space, making it feel more welcoming, and relieve feelings of anxiousness for patients and visitors. With the ability to customize their correlated color temperature (CCT) and brightness, LED lights provide healthcare organizations with the ability to control illumination, not only in the waiting room, or a patient’s room, but throughout the entire building, delivering the desired appearance without sacrificing the quality of care.
Enhanced Patient Experiences
Combining LED fixtures with an intelligent building system—such as an IoT-enabled infrastructure—can further improve energy-related savings through integrated recognition and operation of all building systems. Moreover, the “smart” building systems allow for customized patient preferences for room lighting and temperature, hallway noise management, and indoor navigation for visitors. In patients experiencing a loss of control as a result of a debilitating disease or illness, these technologic amenities can return feelings of composure.
Enhanced Comfort, Lower Errors & Accidents
As lighting technologies evolve, so does our understanding of how light affects us. Research shows lighting has a significant impact on the well-being of staff, patients, and even visitors. Bright light is shown to reduce drowsiness, cause us to feel energetic and lively, and promote feelings of happiness. Insufficient or dull lighting is associated with eyestrain—which can cause headaches and lead to accidents—is associated with higher levels of stress and fatigue, can trigger seizures, and even lead to a mild form of depression, called Seasonal Affective Disorder (or SAD). Through the application of optimal lighting, healthcare facilities can alleviate these ailments, which will improve the well-being of patients, staff, and visitors.
More-Efficient Operational Processes
Circling back to IoT, hospitals can improve operational productivity through the implementation of intelligent building technologies. Healthcare organizations can employ real time location systems (RTLS) to monitor the location of care-related equipment to prevent essential equipment from stockpiling, and reduce the amount of time needed to locate necessary hardware during immediate care situations. Even hospital staff, from doctors, to nurses, to patients and security can be tracked to quicken response times.
By upgrading exterior lights to LEDs, hospitals and healthcare facilities can shine as brightly on the outside as on the inside. In an industry where time is of the essence, proper exterior illumination can help guide emergency vehicles and patients to the proper entrance. Replacing inadequate parking lot and parking structure lighting with LEDs can make parking areas brighter and safer for facility staff, patients, and visitors alike.
Cost Savings and Increased Profitability
Improvements to energy efficiency can reduce the cost of energy by as much as 75%. LEDs will also dramatically reduce maintenance costs, as bulbs can last up to 20 years (a lifespan five times that of fluorescents). Lowering errors and accidents while improving patient and staff well-being is difficult to quantify, but with an average operating margin of 2.3%, a 0.2% savings in all of the above is a 10% improvement in cash flow or profitability. So you see, upgrading with the right lighting is so much more than just saving some energy!
The potential for savings can vary, but most facilities can see significant gains through energy efficiency and well-being with minimal investment. Some examples include:
- Geisinger Health System based in Danville, PA, retrofitted 24,000 light fixtures and installed occupancy sensors across their facilities—accounting for 50% in energy savings. The company also received $156,000 in incentives from a local utility. The project yielded energy savings of $460,000 annually, paying for itself in less than four years. Read more.
- Gundersen Health Systems based out of La Crosse, Wisconsin hired Energy Performance Lighting to replace their outdated lighting. Regarding the interior, we installed LED tubes and lamps, and replaced high-pressure sodium (HPS) exterior pole fixtures with new LED fixtures. The project yielded energy savings of $105,185 annually and reduced greenhouse gas emissions over 2 million lbs. per year. Read more.
There are many more ways in which energy-efficient and smart building technologies can help healthcare facilities achieve their overall goals of patient care, cost reduction, and more sustainable operation. Using these technologies, the general standard of care can be improved and a health facility transformed from a cost center into a self-catering instrument.
The first step in implementing energy efficient upgrades in your facility is to complete an assessment. Energy Performance Lighting performs investment-grade lighting evaluations for hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living and other health care facilities. To see how your lighting compares, give our certified lighting efficiency professionals a call at (608) 661-5555 or schedule an assessment online and a representative will reach out within one business day to learn more about your facility needs and discuss potential options.