UCSF Sustainability Stories


Deborah Fleischer, Green Impact, March 2013


UCSF’s Sukhjeet Sandhu Saves Loads of Energy

On Feb. 19th PG&E awarded $846,000 to UCSF, the latest energy efficiency incentives that have become a regular occurrence at one of the world’s leading centers of health sciences, research and patient care.  Last spring, PG&E presented the university with a nearly $3 million check for incentives earned by implementing energy-saving measures over three years, including motion sensor lighting and variable speed ventilation throughout UCSF buildings.  The chiller project represents the largest energy savings for a single project at UCSF, and it is the first big-scale energy upgrade project at a UC medical center.

Kudos to UCSF’s Sukhjeet Sandhu and team

ChillerThe old 1970s steam-driven chiller, which chills water that’s piped throughout the hospitals for needed air conditioning in operating rooms, relied on natural gas. According to Sukhjeet Sandhu, Director, Engineering & Utilities, UCSF Medical Center – UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, the old chiller was unreliable, required a lot of maintenance and had an inadequate cooling capacity. The new 600-ton chiller is electric and while electricity use went up for the chiller, the overall energy savings was tremendous.

SanduUCSF estimated that its yearly utility bill is reduced by $1.3 million a year.  “It’s a phenomenal change from what we had,” said Sandhu. “You can rightfully say that this is as efficient as any chiller system out there.” It was a complex project, requiring upgraded chilled water piping and controls. The work also had to be done while keeping the hospital fully staffed and running.  “We were never an inconvenience to this hospital,” Sandhu said. “They never even knew this was happening.”

“Sukhjeet’s vision and tenacity — that really has made it so successful,” stressed PG&E customer relationship manager Eric Jansen.

Energy savings equivalent to removing 551 cars

The upgrade saves almost 410,000 kilowatt hours and more than 666,000 therms of energy each year, savings equivalent to avoiding nearly 8 million pounds of carbon dioxide or powering 921 homes for one year or removing 551 cars from the road.

To find our more, the presentation can be found here.


Photos by David Kligman.
Text by Deborah Fleischer, Green Impact.