Counties Manukau slashes energy costs at SuperClinic

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Manukau SuperClinic 

Counties Manukau Health (CMH) has slashed nearly a third of the energy use at one of its biggest clinics, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in operational costs per year.

This included halving the energy use of the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) system through the implementation of a continuous commissioning programme.

Continuous commissioning refers to on-going monitoring and optimisation of HVAC systems, which often waste energy if they are not set-up and maintained properly.

CMH staff, working in close collaboration with their HVAC contractor, used rigorous continuous commissioning practices to achieve the impressive results at the Manukau SuperClinic. 

Energy Manager Mark Davis targeted the Manukau SuperClinic site for improvement by installing detailed sub-metering on all utilities and establishing the continuous commissioning programme, as part of the overall Energy Management Plan.  On-going review of data from the site’s Building Management System (BMS) and sub-metering systems enabled the tuning of HVAC system, to reduce wastage and reduce HVAC running costs by 50%.

Mark is a strong advocate of continuous commissioning.

“It is one of the most cost-effective energy efficiency measures available, and can produce significant savings for limited expenditure.

“In our case, as most of the measures involved optimisation of existing equipment and controls, cost and disruption were kept to a minimum and we achieved better than $200,000 per annum savings with payback under 12-months.”

After collecting energy use data, and comparing it with other sites, it was apparent that there was significant energy wastage, with one of the main culprits being inefficient HVAC settings – for example, HVAC systems running on the weekend, just in case someone were to come in.

“Even small inefficiencies in how an HVAC system runs can mean huge energy wastage over time. Because we use sub-metering to identify day-to-day fluctuations in our energy use, we can combine this with detailed interrogation of the BMS to pinpoint a problem when it pops up, fix it, and stop the energy wastage as it occurs. With standard monthly energy invoices covering only the total site consumption that most businesses receive, it is a lot harder to identify the source of the problem.”

Mark believes there is great potential for other businesses to implement robust continuous commissioning practices and experience the benefits of energy efficiency and cost reduction.

“I would encourage any large business to put serious thought into setting up a continuous commissioning management plan, because doing so could save between 10-20% of their total energy costs for a site in a short space of time - with improved comfort conditions and reduced breakdowns.”

The DHB’s project was supported by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA), which has funding available to help reduce energy use across public sector agencies.  There is significant potential in the health sector to reduce carbon and save money through a focus on energy management.   

Energy projects are one way Counties Manukau Health is reducing its carbon footprint.  The DHB has been measuring and reporting emissions since 2012, reducing emissions by 18% over that time.

 “The SuperClinic project is a great demonstration of the easy wins that continuous commissioning can generate,” says EECA Account Manager Drew Roberts.

“Projects like these help the public sector save money, which can be re-directed into other priority areas.  Hiring a dedicated energy manager allows an organisation to focusing on cost effective energy efficiency improvements that have a quick return on investment.”

Public sector agencies can access EECA’s interest-free loans to invest in energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy technology.

 Visit EECA's funding and support page for more information

The Energy Management Association of New Zealand holds specialist continuous commissioning training courses

 Visit the EMANZ website