Gifford Health Care became part of the Efficiency Vermont Continuous Energy Improvement (CEI) partnership in 2018. The CEI program provided participating hospitals with energy performance assessments, education in identifying savings opportunities, recommendations for optimal approaches, and assistance in creating long-term energy-management plans and employee engagement strategies. Also, representatives of partner hospitals participated in workshops, member-facility walkthroughs, and networking events to gain awareness of best practices.
Vermont hospitals have some of the most significant energy needs in the state, and the CEI program helped hospitals prioritize energy considerations in every aspect of their operations versus viewing energy savings as a series of unrelated upgrades.
As a CEI partner, Gifford’s primary focus is its Critical Access Hospital, Gifford Medical Center, which in 2015 achieved ENERGY STAR® certification from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), placing the facility in the top 25 percent of energy-efficient hospitals in the United States. However, CEI outreach and education will reach all Gifford locations throughout central Vermont and the Upper Valley Connecticut River region that borders New Hampshire.
One of the initiatives Patrick Giordano, Gifford Facilities Manager, identified through the CEI program was to lower energy costs and improve Gifford Medical Centers interior environment using LED lighting and controls. Leading Edge Design Group (LEDG) helped Gifford Medical Center evaluate systems and performed the installation and commissioning. The new LED lighting increases the light levels and light uniformity throughout the facility for the workforce, patients, and visitors, while the networked control system allows the facilities team to control and program lighting from a handheld app. With the future in mind, Giordano created a strategy that is scalable and capable of supporting other Internet of Things (IoT) technologies.
Also, the control system integrates with their current Building Management System (BMS) and Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system.
IoT in healthcare, coupled with Smart Building strategies, have the potential to change a health system’s operations and patient experience drastically. Connecting lighting control systems, thermostats, HVAC systems, and other building equipment enables the collection of data on real-time patterns. This data helps guide remote and automated building system adjustments that improve energy efficiency and reduce energy costs across multiple types of facilities as well. In healthcare, the sensors that drive these smart building technologies also play a significant role in patient safety and other patient care programs.