More than 20 years ago the Unity Health Engineering Department set out on a quest to fulfill the impossible by leading the hospital to becoming energy efficient. Beginning with a facility originally designed to 1965 specifications, with major additions in 1998 and 2005; updates and endeavors to reach this goal proved to be a challenging feat. Over years of tireless efforts, improvements and projects, the ultimate goal of receiving Energy Star Certification was achieved in 2015.
Most recently, Unity Health has been recognized in the top 1 percent of all general hospitals in the U.S. for its Energy Star Certification with a rating of 78 and hopes to continue to receive ratings well into the eighties. Unity Health is one of 56 hospitals to receive the certification among the 5,627 hospitals in the nation, according to Bernhard TME Engineering. Of the 106 hospitals in Arkansas, Unity Health is one of three Energy Star Certified facilities. The other facilities in Arkansas are much more newly designed and built.
This certification and exemplary rating display the commitment Unity Health has to continuing the journey of energy efficiency, saving money and being mindful of the environment as well as the community. "It was a long road and it was very satisfying that we did accomplish it," Rick Hare, Director of Engineering, said. "I remember a time when it appeared almost impossible."
Some examples of energy improvements to the facility include, but are not limited to, the following:
-Updates to the energy efficiency began in 1994 with ridding the property of overhead power lines and a back fed transformer.
-208-volt power was replaced with 480-volt power.
-Reduction of energy used during peak demand time frames by using capacitator banks.
-During each expansion (1998 and 2005) additional energy efficient modifications were implemented.
-This year 900-1,000 florescent lights throughout the hospital were retrofitted to LED lights.
Additional strategies ahead:
-Replacement of the existing parking lot lights with LED fixtures.
-Modification of the HVAC system on Tower Two's first and second floors.
-Additional system controls and training for personnel.
Unity Health indeed accomplished this mission under the direction of the Board of Directors, Administration, and Engineering. The facility continues to undergo improvements to work toward an even higher rating in the future.