UCSF Sustainability Stories

Deborah Fleischer, Green Impact, February 2014

UCSF Medical Center Energy Efficiency Upgrade:  Saving Dollars and Energy

Quote posterAs UCSF works toward its goal of reducing carbon emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, many of the strategies to reduce energy use, especially heating/cooling mechanical retrofits, happen behind the scenes, invisible to staff and visitors. This is true of one of UCSF’s most recent energy efficiency upgrade project at the UCSF Medical Center Clinical Labs, which will save energy, reduce carbon emissions, and in the long run, save UCSF over $100,000/year.

While the details around HVAC, variable frequency drives, and pumps might be a bore to the average reader, the bottom line return on investment is impressive.  With a project cost of approximately $190,000, an annual savings of $106,000/year, and a PGE rebate of $84,590, the payback with incentives is only one year.  This approach might not have as quick a payback in a traditional office setting, but in a lab running 24/7, the numbers simply made sense.

Bigger Context

QuoteIn a recent speech at VerdeXchange in Los Angeles, President Janet Napolitano stressed, “Sustainability writ large is something that I and the UC chancellors, and the faculty, staff, and most importantly perhaps, the students, take very seriously.”  She continued on to announce an ambitious goal—that the University of California will achieve complete carbon neutrality in university operations by 2025. If UCSF succeeds, it will be the first research university in the world to become carbon neutral.

“Now, we need all hands on deck to make this happen,” she said.  Mark Laret, CEO of the medical center, agrees when he says, “...the medical center is committed to sustainability. We are proud to be one of the 50 greenest hospitals in America, but I know we can do more.”

How can you do your part?  Get your office, lab, or unit LivingGreen certified.  It’s a fun and easy way to support UCSF’s commitment to sustainability.

The Details:  HVAC and VFD and Pumps—Oh My

For facility managers and other interested in the details, read on.

UCSF Medical Center Clinical Labs occupies 39,230 square feet at China Basin on the 2nd floor of the Berry Street building in Suite 290.  The labs HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems run 24/7 to provide heating, ventilation, and cooling to approximately 27,000 square feet of lab space within Suite 290.  Per the lease agreement, the medical center is responsible for maintenance, repairs, and utilities to run the HVAC equipment. 

Due to high utility bills for the lab, along with complaints about lab temperature from staff, Bill Tarangioli, Facilities Manager, UCSF Office of Real Estate Services,realized some changes were needed.  Bill asked Medical Center, Design & Construction for assistance to re-commission the HVAC system and to explore the possibility of lowering the lab air exchanges. 

Suhki Sandhu, Director (Medical Center, Design & Construction), determined that this would be a cost effective project and engaged the consulting firm ARUP to confirm the feasibility of the project concept and to estimate the expected savings from re-commissioning the HVAC system, reducing the air change rate, and installing variable frequency drives (VFD) on two hot water pumps. 

The Medical Center and Real Estate Services worked together, holding meetings with the landlord, EH&S, and Clinical Lab managers to put together a scope of work and schedule that would satisfy everyone in this busy lab.  Once the details were worked out, the contractors did their work.  The final summary of savings showed an annual savings of $106,000 per year.  With a project cost of approximately $190,000, and a PGE rebate of $84,590, the payback with incentives will be about one year.

“This project provided an opportunity for savings, a more comfortable environment for the lab and a quick payback,” explains Tarangioli.  According to Tarangioli, this approach might not have as quick a payback in a traditional office setting, but in a lab running 24/7, the numbers simply made sense.  The entire project from beginning to end took about 13 months and involved coordination between the Medical Center, Real Estate Services, EH&S, the landlord, and PG&E.