Memorial Hermann Katy Hospital has developed into a finely tuned, energy-efficient facility.

When Memorial Hermann Katy Hospital in Texas opened in 2007, it featured the most state-of-the-art building technology available at the time. However, it earned an Energy Star rating of just 15 from the Environmental Protection Agency.

That score gave it the distinction of being the most energy inefficient among the 12 hospitals and dozens of other facilities within the Memorial Hermann Healthcare System, Houston.

With energy costs at $7.20 per square foot, the Katy facility was an unacceptable financial drain that created a challenge for Michael Hatton, executive of engineering services at the health care system, and his staff.

Hatton and his team were up to the task and achieved a turnaround in performance in just a couple of years. Energy costs dropped about 50 percent to $3.45 per square foot in June and the facility's Energy Star score soared to 93.

Originally, insufficient staff training, numerous startup and construction deficiencies, including ineffective commissioning, and lack of effective plant operation focus caused poor facility performance, he says.

After benchmarking operations against the other 11 hospitals in the system, they confirmed the severity of the problem, says Hatton. An energy audit and further benchmarking helped determine that there were systemic problems with the HVAC and building controls systems. Staff underwent training to improve knowledge of facility operations.

Optimizing control sequences, cooling and heating system operation, equipment scheduling and tuning of variable-speed drives combined to cut energy use by 34 percent, while maintaining patient comfort. Natural gas consumption was cut by 75 percent through improved temperature control and variable air volume sequences.

As the most energy-efficient hospital in Memorial Hermann Healthcare, it has earned the Energy Star label three times and now serves as a role model for the system, says Hatton.