Better buildings: Deborah hospital gets an energy upgrade

Hospitals use huge amounts of energy. Just think of all that equipment, the 24-hour operation, and the need to keep things as sterile as possible.

But throughout the region, hospitals have been making changes and realizing financial savings for their efforts.

One of the latest is Deborah Heart and Lung Center in Browns Mills, Burlington County.

Its $1.89 million in energy efficiency upgrades is courtesy of a hospital efficiency program sponsored by PSE&G -- is a $79 million effort that is one of only four programs in the United States that specifically targets hospitals for energy-efficiency improvements and the only known program where the utility bears all the upfront capital costs, according to a press release.  There are 19 hospitals in the program.

PSE&G provided Deborah with an investment-grade energy audit, and proposed various conservation measures. Then the energy company gave the hospital $1.89 million in up-front funding. Deborah will repay about $610,000 of this over the next 36 months.

Among the projects:

• New chiller, cooling tower and chilling plant upgrades for more efficient facility cooling.

• Installation of more energy efficient burners and controls on boilers that are used year-round for standby heat, sterilization steam, hot water, etc.

• Installation of hot water boiler secondary loop that serves only those areas that specifically need heat or steam year round.

• Replacement of older windows with new double pane, energy efficient windows

• Replaced various older motors with new energy efficient models

 Earlier this month, Rep. Jon Runyan (NJ-3), joined with Deborah Heart and Lung President and CEO Joseph P. Chirichella, and Al Matos, Vice President, Renewables and Energy Solutions at PSE&G to tour the newly installed energy efficiency improvements.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, another hospital in the program, Saint Peter's Healthcare System in New Brunswick, will announce solar arrays going up at three of its locations, including Saint Peter's University  Hospital.

The project will consist of nearly 10,000 solar panels capable of producing more than 2.3 million kilowatt hours of electrical energy every year, and it will displace more than 78 million pounds of carbon over 20 years, according to a press release.