BUFFALO GROVE, Ill. — Ohio’s Summa Health System is undergoing a $4.2 million building infrastructure upgrade to reduce operating costs and improve patient and staff comfort. Summa plans to accomplish these improvements with no capital outlay. It financed the one-year boiler and lighting system upgrade through a performance contract arrangement with Siemens Building Technologies Inc.

Under terms of the contract, Siemens is guaranteeing $5.8 million in energy savings and $2.3 million in labor savings over a 10-year-period at Summa’s Akron City and St. Thomas hospitals. Most of the savings will result from new high-efficiency boilers just installed at St. Thomas. Siemens financed the $4.2 million project, which Summa will repay within seven years, from the project’s guaranteed savings. The balance of the $8.1 million projected savings will leave Summa with substantial funds for future infrastructure improvements.

“As important as cost savings, improving patient and medical staff comfort and safety were also necessary goals for this project to achieve,” said David Jean, Summa’s director of facilities engineering. He added that improved boilers and heat distribution throughout facilities will better regulate temperatures and brighter lighting will not only improve visibility but also make interior spaces more cheerful.

Bob Harrigan, Summa executive vice president and COO, said the project’s improvements will further position Summa Health System as the model of world-class excellence that other health care providers nationwide will benchmark against.

“Our mission has always been to provide the best health care possible, and the Siemens performance contract is an innovative approach that helps Summa Health System accomplish its capital improvement projects without having to make any capital outlay to achieve these results,” Harrigan said.

Preliminary work, begun in the fall of 2002, involved a careful analysis of the steam heat distribution system at St. Thomas Hospital to identify opportunities to reduce waste via the installation of new energy-efficient package boiler systems to replace ones in operation there since the early 1950s. New boilers went on-line in January 2003. Additional work includes retrofitting conventional ballast fluorescent lighting with brighter, energy-efficient electronic ballast fluorescent lamps.

Akron City Hospital, built in the early 20th century, and St. Thomas Hospital, built in 1929, have undergone a number of expansions and improvements over the years. While the Akron City Hospital Campus does have a boiler plant, it has been unused for some time. Instead, the facility is heated by steam heat purchased from a privately owned steam plant. Cost for that purchased steam will now be going down, the result of a purchased steam versus in-house steam cost analysis performed by Siemens that helped Summa negotiate a better rate.

The performance contract also specifies replacement of obsolete energy management systems in use at Akron City and St. Thomas with the Siemens Apogee building management system to automatically control heating, ventilating, air conditioning, and lighting systems to maximize energy and operating efficiencies and interior comfort even more. The net result will be standardized, state-of-the-art building management systems at Akron City, St. Thomas, and Summa's community hospital Cuyahoga Falls General, where the most current Siemens system is already in place. This upgrade will permit enhanced utilization as a cost and quality management tool for the Summa facilities engineering team.

Siemens’ Cleveland branch worked with the Summa team to develop the program and is managing the performance contract project. Summa officials said Siemens was selected for the project after a careful evaluation of competitive proposals, but also because of Siemens’ performance over the years with other energy-related projects within the Summa Health System and its expertise in engineering solutions for health care delivery systems. Siemens has performed similar energy performance projects for Metro Health Medical Center, Cleveland, and St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, Youngstown.

Jean said that future cost-savings projects, including water conservation measures, chiller plant improvements, and other infrastructure upgrades, are currently being evaluated.

Publication date: 04/07/2003