UAMS Receives ENERGY STAR®, E2C Awards for Energy Efficiency, Cost Savings

By Jon Parham

UAMS announced the accomplishment today as it accepted the Energy Efficient Commitment (E2C) Award from the American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE) for lowering its energy consumption by about 50 thousand British Thermal Units (kBTUs) per square foot in the past two years. The UAMS Residence Hall, opened in 2006, also received the ENERGY STAR designation for its energy-saving features.

“I am truly amazed at the accomplishments of the UAMS team as a 20 percent reduction in energy use is impressive, but when considering this reduction is over a 5.2 million square-foot academic medical center, this feat is unprecedented,” said Dale Woodin, executive director of the American Society of Healthcare Engineering, who presented the award to UAMS Chancellor Dan Rahn, M.D.

“The UAMS team has generated savings in every conceivable way, through retro-commissioning of current facilities to ensure peak performance, to achieving LEED standards in new construction, to the world-class innovation of the West Central Energy Plant,” Woodin said. “UAMS is a shining example of how money that was previously spent on utilities can be redirected toward buildings and projects that support patient care, education and research.”

Overall, the campus reported a $3.7 million savings in energy costs a year compared to estimated energy costs if energy-saving measures had not been included in a campus power plant opened in 2007. When the West Central Energy Plant opened in October 2007 it was estimated that those measures would save the campus $3.5 million a year, which would cover the one-time $3.4 million price tag for features such as equipment to better regulate energy consumption, high-efficiency lighting and insulated windows.

“UAMS is committed to finding ways to be environmentally friendly and economically responsible and we are thrilled to be recognized for our efforts,” Rahn said.

The ENERGY STAR designation for the UAMS Residence Hall is a first for a building in the University of Arkansas system. It is the first residence hall in the state to achieve the designation.

The UAMS Residence Hall ranked in the top 10 percent for energy efficiency of residence halls and dormitories across the country.

“ENERGY STAR is pleased to add the UAMS Residence Hall to the ranks of residence halls and dormitories that are energy efficient and environmentally responsible,” said Clark Reed, director of the health care facility division of the ENERGY STAR program, a program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designed to identify and promote energy-efficient products and projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The E2C Award recognizes health care facilities that reduce their energy consumption per square foot by 10 percent or more. UAMS more than doubled that figure even while opening more than 1 million square feet in new construction since 2008 with the addition of a major hospital expansion (540,000 square feet); an expansion to the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute (300,000 square feet); the Psychiatric Research Institute (100,050 square feet); the I. Dodd Wilson Education Building (43,000 square feet); and the Energy Plant (22,936 square feet).

Based on those figures, the campus square footage increased 37 percent while the overall energy usage for the campus increased 13.9 percent. However campus saw its energy usage per square foot decrease from 293 kBTU per square foot in 2007 to 243 kBTU per square foot in 2009. Using a scoring system developed by the EPA that factors in adjustments for climate and the energy efficiency of UAMS’ energy sources, the campus was credited with a 20.1 percent reduction in energy consumption per square foot.

The construction projects accomplished the energy reduction by replacing a 50-year-old hospital building and including energy-saving features in all of the new construction such as windows with solar-shaded glass that allows in the light but blocks the heat and an emphasis on natural light where possible.

“It is impressive that UAMS has been able to continue its growth in such an energy-efficient way that sets an example,” said Jim von Gremp, a member of the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees who leads the board’s buildings and grounds committee.

The new construction – including the Residence Hall – receives utility service from the state-of-the-art West Central Energy Plan. The power plant includes energy-saving equipment such as heating and cooling technology that simultaneously produces 155-degree heating water for hot water and space heating along with 38-degree chilled water for cooling and dehumidification. The heat pump chiller system was one of the first of its kind to be installed in the United States where previously two separate pieces of equipment were used for heating and cooling water.

Also, the plant’s energy system has a hybrid heating water system with two gas-fired boilers and two electric boilers, allowing UAMS to choose the cheapest power source for the boilers as needed.

An Entergy electric substation at the plant can provide electrical power to all UAMS patient care areas in the event of a power failure as well as providing additional power during peak electric usage. This allows Entergy to shift UAMS from its primary power source, a substation on Woodrow Street.

The 92,000-square-foot UAMS Residence Hall replaced a 50-year-old student dormitory and included energy efficient technologies not available in the 1950s. The building’s energy usage per year was 28 kBTU per square foot, compared to the national average for residence halls of 54 kBTU per square foot.

In addition to energy-efficient tinted windows and glass, the facility includes compact fluorescent light fixtures, exit signs using LED lights and timers on light switches in the building’s mechanical rooms. Exhaust air from the Residence Hall is routed through a high-technology energy wheel that recovers up to 80 percent of the energy in the exhaust air and uses it to pre-condition the ventilation air needed for proper indoor quality.

Signs have been placed around the building to encourage students and others in the Residence Hall to turn off lights and TVs when not in use, moderate thermostat settings, wash full loads of clothes and dishes, conserve water, use daylight over electric lights and take other energy-saving initiatives.

UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Related Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a 540,000-square-foot hospital; a statewide network of regional centers; and six institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute and the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging. UAMS has 2,775 students and 748 medical residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including nearly 1,150 physicians who provide medical care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS’ Area Health Education Centers throughout the state. Visit or