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COLUMBUS — The old saying “sometimes you have to spend money to save money,” sounds like bad math run amok.

In the case of energy efficiency improvements recently made by Columbus Community Hospital (CCH), the math quickly makes sense.

CCH’s recently completed $185,000 upgrade of its heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems (HVAC) promises to save the hospital an estimated $70,000 per year. At that rate of savings hospital administration expects to pay off the project costs in just three years.

In addition to these estimated annual savings the hospital also received an initial check totaling $24,079 from the EnergyWise program offered by Loup Power District in partnership with Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD).

“We looked at the hospital’s energy bills and saw they were increasing at a faster rate than we were comfortable with,” CCH Vice President of Operations James Goulet said. “We thought a change to more efficient systems could help reduce our energy costs.

“We are also concerned with the rising cost of health care and we saw that by reducing our energy cost we could also reduce how fast we need to increase rates to patients for  the services they receive.”

Goulet said other benefits of the savings could be found in new opportunities for new equipment and just the overall increased efficiency of the HVAC system itself.

“HVAC systems can account for a large amount of the energy used in hospital buildings,” said Certified Energy Manager Rick Cheloha of Loup Power District. “Hospitals consume 250 percent more energy compared to commercial buildings. Our goal is to support our customers to become more efficient.

Cheloha said the EnergyWise HVAC Optimization Incentive Program is designed to support projects that lower energy use and improve comfort.

“Our incentive helps with making the payback for such projects even more attractive,” Cheloha said. “A final incentive check of $6,020 will be paid after one year and upon verification that those optimizations have been effective and sustained.”

CCH partnered with Control Management, Inc. (CMI) to take on the challenge to reduce energy consumption of the heating and cooling system within the hospital.

CMI’s services include temperature control, efficient energy management and systems integration.

CMI has offices located in Omaha and Lincoln.

“We’re excited to create an efficient, comfortable, and safe environment of care for both our patients and staff,” Columbus Community Hospital CEO Mike Hansen said. “Upgrading technology and generating energy savings is a win-win situation. We are committed to providing an optimal environment of care while being environmentally responsible.”

The implementation team included Advanced Engineering Systems (AES), a mechanical and electrical engineering firm that helped with HVAC design modifications and energy savings calculations.

With the input of all parties, CMI managed the team, supported the hospital with the incentive requirements and implemented a wide range of temperature control energy savings techniques.

“This project was a true team effort, the hospital leadership believed in our efforts and their staff assisted us in making the changes while continuing to provide quality service to the community,” CMI Vice President Frederick Lerouge said. “We applaud the hospital for their continuous commitment to improve the environment of care. Saved dollars from this project can be redirected to continue existing facility upgrades, staff salaries, and medical equipment technology.”

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