Wisconsin Health System Reduces ‘Energy Footprint’
Sustainability is not just a buzzword for the ThedaCare Health System based in Appleton, WI. It’s an initiative that the healthcare provider has consistently focused on for more than 10 years at its five hospitals and 30 facilities. As technologies develop, new opportunities arise for improving their hospitals’ impact on the environment.
“From my perspective, healthcare organizations must lead the way in reducing fossil fuels,” said ThedaCare Sustainability Leader Paul Linzmeyer.
“The first thing we are working on is to reduce demand. If we reduce demand, that is less pollution going into the environment. While some of sustainability work is about saving money, it is really about reducing the amount of greenhouse gases going into the environment.
“Healthcare’s first obligation should be to do no harm to our environment – for health and safety reasons.”
In late 2013, a facilities energy-reduction team led by Linzmeyer noticed that the outdoor lighting on some of the ThedaCare campuses was more than overdue for an upgrade. Weathered high-pressure-sodium (HPS) and metal-halide (MH) fixtures that illuminated parking lots on multiple campuses emitted harsh, uneven lighting.
As a first step, the lighting team targeted the system’s Theda Clark Medical Center in Neenah and Appleton Medical Center (AMC) campuses. Both offer large parking lots – one slightly more than 861,000 square feet (Theda Clark) and the other about 916,000 square feet. AMC also utilizes a garage with parking ramps on four decks and totaling 141,520 square feet.
The Theda Clark campus in Neenah is located in a residential area, and facilities managers had received multiple complaints from neighbors about lighting overflow from the parking lots on and into houses.
Additionally, the pole lighting comprised two fixtures per pole, which required Theda Clark to hire electricians to replace the bulbs every three years. The dual heads also created hot spots and dark corners throughout the parking lots – creating a safety concern on the campus.
ThedaCare worked with a design team from Élan, a Kichler Lighting company, and determined that outdoor lighting would indeed be a good upgrade opportunity, because of its quick return on investment. To further maximize investments, the team evaluated LED lighting.
“LEDs are the best solution right now for lighting in general,” said Mark Zelten, Application and Sales at Élan’s Green Bay-area office. “It’s certainly going to be the light source for decades to come. LED was the way to go for the Theda Clark and AMC campuses, and we wanted to maximize their investment.”
Not Just About the Energy
While the decision to go LED was largely driven by the energy savings, ThedaCare also made security a top priority. Healthcare campuses are constantly seeing foot traffic from new patients, as well as visiting family and friends. The campuses need proper illumination for safe navigation and wayfinding.
“Security staff was very concerned about light levels for safety,” said Steve Jencks, Construction Project Manager for ThedaCare. “They wanted to make sure the new lighting would provide better visibility both on-site, as well as through security cameras.”
With the poor uniformity of the existing metal-halide and HID lighting, the picture on security cameras was below par. Apertures were adjusting to lighter areas, but did not adjust well for visibility in the darker areas. The ThedaCare team knew the uniformity benefits of LED lighting could help solve this problem.
Once LED was determined as the best light source, the next step was to identify a fixture that achieved their longevity, energy efficiency, visibility and uniformity goals – all in one affordable solution.
Retrofitting for Sustainability
With the help of Élan staff, ThedaCare selected products from the Lithonia Lighting D-Series LED family from Acuity Brands for both sites. By replacing the old metal-halide and high-pressure-sodium fixtures with new luminaires, the health system achieved a more effective and even light distribution, officials said.
The enhanced uniformity that the new LED lighting provides allows security cameras to have a clearer picture when scanning the parking lots and garages, they added.
D-Series LED Area luminaires were installed in parking lots
on both campuses. AMC also installed LED Wallpacks, LED Floodlights and D-Series LED Parking Garage luminaires.
The new luminaires offer visually comfortable illumination for drivers and help increase energy efficiency and security, while reducing the maintenance burden of the hospital system, officials said. Additionally, improved light uniformity provided a brighter space that is actually less invasive to the neighbors near the campuses’ parking areas. Because the light is much more focused, the spill into surrounding neighborhoods is eliminated, they said.
“The new lighting in the [AMC] parking ramp is not too bright for the neighboring houses and makes it so much easier to see inside the ramp,” said Jamie Coenen, a ThedaCare Security Officer at AMC. “The lights are mounted high enough that it does not affect your sight or disperse light outside the ramp.”
Another advantage of LED is that it dramatically reduces maintenance time and costs, officials said. The new LED luminaires can deliver a 100,000-hour expected service life, or up to 10 years of operation, as opposed to the three-year maintenance cycle before the retrofit.
“One key aspect of this project is that we no longer need to propose one-for-one solutions,” Élan’s Zelten said. “The new distribution patterns of the Area LED luminaires enabled us to reduce the number of luminaires. So the majority of the time when they had two fixtures on a pole, we can replace it with one fixture to cover the same area.
“We are saving them money not only on energy, [but also] on fixture cost, because most of the time one fixture is cheaper than two,” Zelten said.
For the Theda Clark project, the health system was able to reduce the number of fixtures from 84 original fixtures to 60 Area LED luminaires.
“You can see a vast difference between newly lit lots with a more even distribution, and the yellow from the old lights that cast an ugly glow,” ThedaCare’s Jencks said. “When we have foggy, frosty mornings, you can really tell the improvement of the LED.”
Over a 10-year span, the Theda Clark project is projected to save that campus more than $89,500 on energy and more than $58,600 on maintenance, officials said. The AMC parking lot and garage retrofit is projected to save more than $25,000 each year because of the energy reduction, they said. And the parking lot installation is estimated to save $6,500 in maintenance costs and achieve a five-year return on investment.
Élan’s Zelten gave the new lighting system high praise. “Honestly, the Lithonia D-Series LED family is making converting to LED easy. It is just amazing for a designer – unsurpassed. If a designer is not using this ‘family,’ they ought to be. We are seeing clear advantages of how we can use the fixtures, and how they add value to the end user.”
The ThedaCare Health System is applying for new capital and identifying additional facilities in need of similar retrofit projects. “We do not have a target yet on what our ultimate goal is,” Jencks said. “But we are committed to continuous improvement – that’s our metric.”
A tribute to the savings achieved with the new luminaires – the Lighting Energy Efficiency in Parking (LEEP) Campaign selected the AMC parking project as the winner for the “Highest Percentage Savings in a Retrofit at a Single Parking Structure”.
The LEEP Campaign effort is a collaboration between the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) International, the Green Parking Council and the International Facility Management Association (IFMA). It is a recognition and guidance program that encourages facility owners and managers to take advantage of savings opportunities from high efficient lighting solutions in their parking facilities.
The above article appeared, in toto, as a “Case Study” on www.healthcarefacilitiestoday.com, with Lithonia Lighting/Acuity Brands as the source.