The campus is part of what makes a boarding school experience memorable for students, faculty, and staff. There are over 100 boarding schools throughout New England, each with their own unique campuses that contribute to the personality of the school. However, managing the facilities at these institutions comes with its own set of challenges. Today, facilities managers need to be on the lookout for low-cost investments that will provide high ROI in energy and cost savings.
During my time working in the insulation industry, I have read countless sustainability plans for colleges and universities throughout New England and the U.S. At a time when going green and being environmentally friendly are more mandatory than trendy, colleges and universities are making pledges to become carbon neutral. Some build massive biomass plants, while others build solar fields and install panels on rooftops.
What these colleges and universities all forget is that lowering their carbon footprint can be much easier and significantly less expensive through the implementation of mechanical insulation. For institutions that want to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and save energy, but may not have the capital needed for a largescale energy project, insulation is an ideal place to start.
As with any facility, the true cost of a hospital goes well beyond the initial construction investment. To assess the real cost of building ownership, the scope needs to include the entire life cycle of the building.
What is Building Life Cycle Cost?
Life cycle cost is the total cost of designing, building, owning, operating, maintaining, and disposing of a building over its life. This includes fuel and water, energy, labor, and replacement equipment and components. For hospitals, building-related costs typically fall into the following categories:
The current healthcare environment is one of uncertainty and complexity. Pending changes in reimbursement, a potential rollback of the Affordable Care Act, and a focus on population health have caused healthcare organizations to reevaluate their business and financial strategies.
A focus on year-over-year cost increases is a necessary component of prudent budgeting for both small local practices and large national healthcare systems. However, now more than ever, cost containment is a priority for healthcare administrators.
Healthcare facilities spend over $6.5 billion on energy each year, according to Energy Star. That amount is constantly rising as these facilities work to meet the rising needs of patients.
Energy savings does more than simply improve a company’s bottom line; rather, a focus on energy conservation helps healthcare facilities meet the IHI Triple Aim. By being more energy efficient, hospitals around the country can save money, reduce or even prevent greenhouse gas emissions, improve the air quality within their communities, and support their commitment to public health. Hospitals can reinvest savings from improved energy performance into improving patient care or into the facility itself.
Think about your cell phone.
You use it for almost everything in your daily life, and you get to know it extremely well. People love their phones, and the thought of switching to a new one—and having to learn the ropes all over again—is daunting to many people.
But cell phones don’t last forever. These days, they become obsolete fairly quickly. The time eventually comes when you have to upgrade your cell phone to a newer model, one with more capabilities and better features.
As with cell phones—and with any technology for that matter—your facility’s mechanical insulation system eventually needs to be upgraded. New innovations and standards continue to emerge in the insulation industry, and, before long, your current system simply may not cut it.
There are countless resources online describing the many ways that facilities can save energy. And with the ever-increasing emphasis on energy accountability in facilities management, that’s no surprise. Decision-makers are investing more than ever in resources to help staff more carefully manage energy use and, ultimately, control budget. In fact, many cities and states are now making it mandatory to benchmark energy use, leading to the use of software such as Energy Star Portfolio Manager, an energy management tool for commercial buildings to track energy and water consumption as well as greenhouse gas emissions.
Maintaining a facility budget is a true balancing act. Between issues of cost, performance, environment, sustainability, repair costs and more, it can be difficult to determine how to make facility improvements without going significantly over budget. Plus, proposed facility improvements have other departments’ budgets and priorities to contend with, meaning that recommended projects may not always be approved.
The key to creating an effective facilities budget is planning. Of course, budgets for maintaining the plant and/or facilities are often determined by the company’s overall goals. Insulation energy audits are one way that facilities managers and other decision makers can take a realistic approach to budgeting for a facility upgrade that benefits the whole company by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and saving money on the bottom line.
When many people think of an energy audit, the first thing that comes to mind is evaluating their home to determine where they may be losing energy and money. A mechanical insulation energy audit is not the same as a home energy audit, but the purpose and benefits are the same.
An insulation energy audit gives business owners, building owners and facilities managers a complete understanding of the true dollar and performance value of their insulated systems. The process is an effective way to calculate how much money and energy a facility is losing with its current mechanical insulation system, whether because the mechanical equipment is under-insulated, or because the insulation is missing or damaged.
It’s sad but true—most people don’t think about their mechanical insulation systems until something goes wrong. But to have truly effective insulation that generates a positive ROI, it can’t the right approach is not to “set it and forget it.” Problems arise when mechanical insulation is neglected. But there are a few simple habits that are low-maintenance and easy to implement that could help save your insulation and increase its lifecycle. These tips will help you spot small problems--before they become bigger problems.