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How Four U.S. Hospitals and Research Facilities Are Saving Millions of Dollars in Energy Costs

Mehta found that while Wyeth’s two chiller plants were interconnected, the operators were running both plants during low-load conditions because they thought that shutting one down would risk failing to meet the critical cooling needs of the hospital’s data center and a vaccination facility.

Solution: Mehta said, “We trained the operators in the fundamentals of hydraulics and chilled water. Afterwards, they understood that they could shut down one plant during low-load conditions.” Implementing this solution cost nothing—and the facility benefited with annual electric savings of $190,000 plus the staffing cost to run the second plant.

Amgen, Thousand Oaks, CA—now saving $1,109,488 per year

Problem: Abnormally high pressure loads were stressing the primary pumps in the chilled-water air conditioning system. The plant operators couldn’t determine the cause, and contacted WM Group Engineers to help.

Analysis: Mehta found that a disk valve on a dead-end stub intended for a future connection was installed too close to the large main distribution pipe—and was left in an open position (see diagram), partially blocking the flow of chilled water.

Solution: Closing the valve solved the problem. In addition, Mehta interconnected the two main chilled water plants to make a single virtual central chiller water system. Amgen was able to shut down one plant for most of the year, reducing power consumption by one megawatt, and annual electric costs by $1,109,488.

Lessons Learned

Big improvements in district cooling plant efficiency can often be achieved by thorough engineering analysis and the application of low or no-cost “smart solutions.” Mehta said that "We recommend that facility managers empower their plant operators to read and interpret the data captured in operating logs. Not only will this enhance their understanding of plant operations, but it will also make them proud of their work.” says Mehta. “As engineers, we can really make a difference.”

About Hemant Mehta
President and Principal Hemant R. Mehta, PE, founded WM Group Engineers in 2000, and serves as president and CEO. He is an active member of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and the International District Energy Association (IDEA). In 2011 and 2010, the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE) named him the Region I Energy Engineer of the Year,. He may be reached at hmehta(at)wmgroupeng(dot)com.

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