Capital & Coast District Health Board saves on bills and improves patient wellbeing

Casestudytile CapitalandCoastDHB 001 SL B 201508 Open

Energy savings at Wellington Regional Hospital are reducing costs, and improving the quality of care for patients. A few years ago, Capital & Coast District Health Board (CCDHB) was spending six million dollars a year on electricity and gas at Kenepuru and Wellington Regional hospitals.


With support from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA), it began an energy management programme which aims to reduce the DHB’s energy use by 40% by 2021.

Operations manager for facilities and engineering Leon Clews explains:

“We were concerned about our ability to maintain energy supply after an earthquake, so improvements in energy security were a priority, and we knew we could save money through efficiencies too. ”

There have already been some satisfying savings for minimal outlay – less than $1,000 spent recalibrating ventilation controls in the carpark saved nearly $10,000. A project to install LED lighting at Wellington Regional Hospital is on track to save the DHB more than $40,000 a year. Leon Clews says these small efficiencies are easy ‘wins’ on the way to bigger improvements in the coming years.

“We’ve just finished upgrading the building management system, which controls air quality and temperature throughout Wellington Regional Hospital. That’s already saved us $30,000 in the five weeks it’s been running, and this will increase as we streamline the process.  So far savings equate to a 10% energy reduction over twelve months.”

The savings are not only reducing impact on the environment and improving the bottom line, they’re good for patients too. Improvements in air quality can reduce airborne illnesses, and better light reduces patient falls. Allowing plenty of natural daylight has also been shown to improve patients’ moods and possibly even decrease the length of a hospital stay.

Capital & Coast’s energy management plan is a complex piece of work, which involved benchmarking several years of energy and resource use before savings could even be identified. Accredited consultants Energy Solutions audited energy use on the Wellington and Kenepuru campuses to scope for opportunities.  Leon Clews explains,

“Our staff have their hands full with day-to-day operations, so we needed someone to concentrate solely on identifying and communicating solutions at the higher level.”

Energy Solutions consultant Rob Bishop identified $1.3million of savings with a payback of less than five years. He was impressed with the DHB’s expertise and commitment.

“It was so great for me as a technical person to come up with ideas and have them accepted.  They were prepared to make the capital investment and they knew what they were doing.  Often you can demonstrate the savings and everyone says ‘wow’, but they aren’t prepared to spend the money upfront. They were some of the best people I’ve ever worked with.”

It can be hard to find money for improvements in an area which does not demonstrate direct clinical gains. Leon Clews says senior management support was crucial, and was sought right at the start.

“Our initial analysis back in 2012 gave the Board confidence that the energy management programme would not be a financial burden on the DHB, and they’ve been supportive ever since.  They can see the results are self-funding and long-lived.”

The DHB now has an Energy Efficiency Statement of Intent with objectives out to 2021.
Staff buy-in is also crucial to good energy management.  CCDHB has a sustainability group made up of staff volunteers who are passionate about creating a sustainable work environment.  

“There is a definite socialisation of energy management – we estimate that 4% of our total savings will come out of staff behaviour changes.”

CCDHB has accessed $1.6 million of low interest Crown Loans from EECA – it will have recouped the cost of these loans in less than five years, and will continue to deliver savings and operational benefits long after this.

Company profile

Company Profile
Capital & Coast District Health Board serves a population of over 300,000 people living in Wellington city and its suburbs, the Porirua basin, and the Kapiti coast including Waikanae.

CCDHB is a major employer in the Wellington region, with about 4,000 full time staff.
The DHB manages Kenepuru and Wellington Regional hospitals, Kapiti Health Centre and many community outreach programmes. It provides specialist services to nearly a million people in the lower North and upper South islands.

Key Facts

  • In 2012, CCDHB was spending around $6 million dollars a year on energy.
  • It aims to reduce energy use by 40% by 2021.
  • CCDHB has replaced gas burners, lighting and Wellington Regional Hospital’s building management system, and made numerous systemic efficiencies.
  • It is aligning its energy management programme to the ISO 50-001 standard (world’s best practice).

The Company Perspective

“Sustainability is a key consideration for any large organisation but it is particularly relevant in the healthcare sector. Many of our services rely on energy, and with EECA’s support, we were able to action a series of smart solutions that have benefits for patient comfort, as well as our budget. These also bring us closer to our goal of reducing our energy usage by 40% by 2021. These changes benefit our community today but it is tomorrow’s community who will benefit from our efforts to reduce our carbon footprint.”

Key benefits

  • Hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual cost savings, which can go back into patient care, including a new building management system which is saving $30,000 a month in energy bills.
  • A healthier, safer, more pleasant environment for patients and staff.
  • Reduced carbon footprint (at least 983 tonnes less carbon dioxide per year).