St. Mark's Medical Center emphasizes energy savings.

St. Mark's Medical Center, La Grange, Texas, utilized a proven formula of conducting an energy audit and fine tuning the hospital's HVAC and building controls systems to achieve a 23 percent reduction in energy use over a 12-month period. That translates to $170,000 saved in one year.

It also translates to St. Mark's recently being named winner of the hospital cate­gory in the Environmental Protection Agency's 2011 Energy Star National Building Competition's Battle of the Buildings.

Mel Burgess, director, facilities management, St. Mark's, says a key step to cutting energy use was zoning the building as much as possible to improve control of air conditioning and heating. The hospital also reduced the use of HVAC on weekends and evenings. Another key move was to replace two inefficient boilers.

Burgess says hiring Ridgecrest Energy Advisors of Houston to pinpoint where energy-saving opportunities existed and how to achieve them without affecting patient care was critical to the process. Siemens Industry Inc. reprogrammed building controls to achieve further energy savings.

Insight, a computerized energy dashboard system from Siemens, is a major contributor to cutting energy costs, he says. The system allows Burgess to see energy consumption throughout the hospital in real time and identify such components as air handlers or dampers that can be adjusted to cut energy use.

Encouraging the entire hospital to think in terms of energy savings has impacted the bottom line, he says. "The staff also were very influential in helping with the project. They turn off computer monitors, lights and fans when they leave for the day."

Burgess is confident that further energy savings are possible and is looking down the road at the possibility of replacing two chillers with more efficient units, he says.

The 245 buildings in the competition, which included office buildings, schools, medical office buildings and others, benchmarked their energy use by utilizing Portfolio Manager, Energy Star's online energy measurement and tracking tool.