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BC Hydro Power Smart Initiatives

Continuous Optimization Program

The Continuous Optimization Program helps Northern Health facilities improve their operational efficiency by reducing energy use. We do this by identifying and implementing low-cost operation and maintenance changes.

This program involves a five-phase process:

  • Investigation (energy audits)
  • Implementation
  • Feedback (measuring success)
  • Building operator training (training in house personal of best management practices)
  • Coaching (BC Hydro visits site quarterly for the first year of the program)

Nine Northern Health facilities are currently participating in this program, including Kitimat General Hospital, GR Baker Hospital (Quesnel), Parkside Care Facility (Prince George), University Hospital of Northern BC (Prince George), Prince Rupert Regional Hospital, Mills Memorial Hospital, St. John Hospital (Vanderhoof), Fort Nelson Hospital, and Dawson Creek District Hospital.

Energy Manager Program

Northern Health is in the fifth year of taking part in the Energy Manager Program. Energy management is not just about implementing energy efficient technologies –  it's also about people. An energy manager's goal is to create a culture within an organization in which being energy efficient becomes a regular business practice. BC Hydro provides funding for up to 75 per cent of the cost for Northern Health to have a dedicated energy manager.

Les Sluggett, Northern Health’s certified energy manager since April 2010, holds a professional engineering degree and a master’s of business administration. In his role, Les has helped Northern Health to implement an energy management program that ensures optimization of energy dollars while maintaining a culture of energy conservation.

Find more information about the BC Power Smart program on the BC Hydro website.

Energy Conservation Statistics

Northern Health has had a strategic energy management plan for five years, guiding Northern Health towards continual improvements in energy efficiency. Beginning in 2008, extensive updating of lighting systems began throughout the organization. Since then, other building systems have been updated, and there are 150 other energy-saving opportunities recently identified by energy audits conducted at 20 facilities.

In 2011-12, Northern Health performed 5.9 per cent better than in 2009-10. Since 2009-10, Northern Health has been able to avoid 5.5 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electrical consumption. This is enough electricity to power 500 homes for a year. It also saved Northern Health $400,000!

For 2012-13, Northern Health is on track for additional electricity savings, and anticipates another one to two per cent in overall efficiency gains.

Northern Health’s strategic energy management plan will continue to guide the organization to complete projects which yield substantial reductions in energy use, cost, and greenhouse gas emissions.

Northern Health Leading the Way

Workplace Conservation Awareness Program

Northern Health’s energy management team has partnered with BC Hydro to establish a workplace conservation awareness program that encourages staff to help save energy at work.

Under this program, the energy team works with staff “green champions” at participating sites to engage their peers in energy-saving campaigns. In the first two years of the program, they held Turn off the Lights poster and sticker campaign, organized Bright Ideas Café and contest events, and shared program information and news internally with all Northern Health staff and physicians.

At Kitimat General Hospital, the team held a Turn it Off day event. Data tracking following that event showed a five per cent drop in electricity use.

In the next two years of the program, the team will be working with staff at UHNBC on similar energy-saving campaigns. UHNBC represents 25% of the total electrical consumption of Northern Health each year.

Northern Health purchases carbon offsets to achieve carbon neutrality        

In 2011, Northern Health had a measured carbon total footprint of 24,710 tonnes for the delivery of quality health care in a challenging climate. Three areas that resulted in the release of carbon and carbon equivalents into the atmosphere included:

  • Heating, lighting, ventilation and other building operations necessary to maintain a healthy patient and workplace environment
  • Paper consumption
  • Fleet vehicles

In accordance with government legislation, Northern Health has purchased carbon offsets from the Pacific Carbon Trust. The Pacific Carbon Trust oversees and funds carbon reduction initiatives within BC.

We have identified potential energy conservation projects at 20 Northern Health facilities in energy studies conducted since early 2012. All of these projects can account for a reduction in Northern Health’s carbon footprint by 1,300 tonnes, or 5.3 per cent.

For more information on the Province’s carbon neutral plan, please visit the Live Smart BC website.  

University Hospital of Northern BC Chiller Plant Modernization

In late 2010, Bill Carlson, UHNBC’s manager for plant property and energy, started to investigate options for modernizing the 32-year-old chiller system at the hospital, used to provide space cooling in the summer months for larger buildings. Two years later, the project is a reality. BC Hydro is providing $55,000 in incentives towards the installation of the new system. The new chiller system will provide an increase in efficiency of approximately 25 per cent. It will also deliver nearly twice the cooling capacity of the old system, an upgrade that is much needed with the growth the facility has seen in the past three decades.

Trane Northwest was selected to carry out the chiller plant modernization, which involved using adaptive frequency drives to reduce electrical consumption when the full capacity of the system is not required. This is one of the key principles in energy management – to stop wasting energy. In addition, the water tower capacity was increased, which helped to provide colder water to the condenser, further reducing electricity use. The system is now able to take advantage of ‘free cooling’ at night and during the spring, fall and winter. And finally, old pneumatic controls were replaced with a modern direct digital control system (DDC), which will help the plant achieve significantly better efficiency.

Energy savings are estimated at nearly 5 million kilowatt hours (kWh) over 25 years. This is enough electricity for more than 1 million round trips between Prince George City Hall and UNBC in a Nissan Leaf!

Building for the Environment

As part of our commitment to a greener and more sustainable future, capital projects undertaken by Northern Health are designed to exceed Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold certification. LEED certification is independent verification that the building process and buildings themselves meet specific sustainable and environmental requirements.

The recently completed Fort St. John Hospital and Peace Villa is LEED gold certified. Northern Health is also pleased that the two hospital replacement projects currently underway, Lakes District Hospital and Health Centre in Burns Lake and Queen Charlotte/Haida Gwaii Hospital on Haida Gwaii, will be built to meet these standards.

Reducing Carbon on Northern Roads

Northern Health is taking efforts to reduce the carbon footprint from Northern Health fleet vehicles that transport staff and physicians, and buses in the Northern Health Connections fleet that transport northerners to out-of-town health care appointments. 

 Electric Vehicle Pilot Project

Northern Health, in partnership with the City of Prince George, University of Northern BC, and Regional District of Fraser Fort George, has entered into a pilot project to evaluate the benefits of an electric vehicle. Each organization will get to use the electric vehicle for four months a year in the pilot project, with Northern Health’s first chance to test it beginning March 1, 2012.

The vehicle is a Nissan Leaf and is 100 per cent electric. This will be Northern Health’s first opportunity to drive an electric car on northern roads, and the trial will include testing the safety features of the vehicle driving in various weather conditions. On top of the environmental benefits, Northern Health will also be able to evaluate maintenance costs and the savings of not having to fill up with gasoline.  

Northern Health Connections

Northern Health Connections unveiled the newest member of its fleet on September 24, 2012: a coach bus to replace an older 2007 coach as part of a regular refresh schedule. In addition to the added features, this bus is seven times more energy and fuel efficient than single occupancy automobiles. The new engine delivers near-zero emissions of particulates and mono-nitrogen oxides. It would take 20 of these new coaches to produce the same amount of mono-nitrogen oxide emissions as a single 1998 coach.