JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - “If the existing building stock of commercial real estate in the U.S. is an agreed-upon goldmine for energy savings, hospitals and health care facilities represent a pot of gold at the end of the efficiency rainbow,” states the website of national energy efficiency developer AirAdvice.

That bold statement is supported by information from the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE). “Hospitals are among the nation’s most complex and energy-intensive facilities,” said DOE’s Richard F. Moorer. They use 836 trillion Btu of energy annually, he said, and have more than 2.5 times the energy intensity and CO2 emissions of commercial office buildings, producing more than 30 pounds of CO2 emissions per square foot.

New efficiency strategies promise not only to decrease their carbon footprint and alleviate the stress they place upon the electric power infrastructure, but also to reduce their expenses, he said. U.S. hospitals spend more than $5 billion annually on energy.

Nevertheless, it often takes more specific information to get a hospital interested in making efficiency upgrades. This was the experience of mechanical, general, and aerospace contractor Sauer Inc., Jacksonville, Fla., which was trying to bid an energy retrofit contract with Fayette County Memorial Hospital, a two-building, critical-access hospital in the city of Washington Court House, Ohio (near Columbus).


As part of a growth plan, “We needed a competitive edge to both maintain existing service agreements and expand new ones,” said Ed Brady, a service account representative for Sauer Technical Services, and energy service specialist at Sauer Inc. Sister company Ruthrauff Sauer, Pittsburgh, recommended AirAdvice’s BuildingAdvice product to Brady in January 2010.

BuildingAdvice, the commercial energy services program, helps HVAC professionals make automated building energy benchmarks, assessments, and audits, thereby enabling them to strengthen service agreements and deliver cost savings for their clients through energy efficiency gains. (Sauer Holdings, parent company of Sauer Inc., is a four-branch company with annual revenue of $478 million. It had committed to pursuing energy services as part of its overall corporate strategy earlier this year.)

Brady worked with AirAdvice’s Energy Services business consultant Zack Buquet to discuss and design a marketing strategy around the product. They agreed that offering free benchmarking to customers would be the strategy that best fit Sauer’s needs.

“Contract customers weren’t biting at the energy services,” said Brady of his existing client base. “We found that by offering free benchmarking, we would definitely get potential new clients and some nice first meetings.” Moreover, “It doesn’t really take that much of my time to do the benchmarking.”

By the following month, Brady was putting the energy services platform to work.


Brady had already done seven benchmarks for a variety of property types when he approached Fayette County Memorial Hospital. The hospital’s leadership showed a very favorable reaction to the energy benchmark, he said - especially considering that one building scored the lowest rating possible on the Energy Star scale, and the other scored very low.

The low scores were caused by circa 1974 boilers, outdated rooftop units, and an older cooling tower, all of which the contractor proposed changing. Additional proposed improvements include installing vfds on motors, and installing larger packaged units for the ICU. Sauer budgeted replacement costs, estimated paybacks, and used a BuildingAdvice Energy Audit to specifically propose:

• $500,000 to replace old boilers and pipes;

• $185,000 for rooftop unit replacement; and

• $20,000 for lighting.

“The meeting went well,” Brady said. The hospital is seeking funding to pay for the bulk of the work by early 2011. In the meantime, the hospital will use in-house resources to address the low-cost recommendation from the energy assessment to replace the lighting system. Savings from these upgrades will be realized by January 2011. The hospital is then eligible to push the lighting retrofit through the local utility to become eligible for rebates.

“They’re looking for financing on their end, looking at budgeting into next year,” said Brady. He said that providing the free energy assessment helped his company get its foot in the door at this hospital. It allowed him to survey the entire facility and identify all of this project work.

He also has discussed ongoing continuous energy monitoring after the hospital has its equipment replaced, to monitor, manage, and ensure ongoing energy savings in real time.

For more information, visit www.airadvice.com, www.fcmh.org, and www.sauer-inc.com.

Publication date: 11/01/2010