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Gifford Medical Center Ranks 1st In Energy Efficiency in Vermont

Randolph — Gifford Medical Center is undertaking a number of energy efficiency projects in an effort to become the first hospital in Vermont to earn a national “Energy Star” rating.

The Energy Star rating is a program of the Environmental Protection Agency that helps businesses and individuals improve energy efficiency.

No Vermont hospital has achieved the 75th percentile ranking required for the Energy Star rating, Gifford said in a news release. Gifford is at 65 percent and is the most energy efficient hospital in Vermont, the release said.

The ranking does not include buildings outside of the main medical center, such as older homes that have been converted into office space and Gifford’s eight outlying community health centers.

The hospital hopes to earn the rating by the end of 2014. To do so, it would have to reduce energy usage by 6 percent.

Last month, electricians at Gifford changed parking lot lights from 250-watt metal halide bulbs to more efficient 78-watt LEDs.

Other planned projects include replacing a large kitchen stove hood that runs more or less continuously with one that runs on demand using heat sensors. In addition to the electricity savings, the hood would remove less air that has already been heated or cooled. Heating and ventilation systems in parts of the building are also being rebalanced to run more efficiently.

Tyson Moulton, Gifford’s director of facilities, said the projects are part of an ongoing energy efficiency plan at the hospital. They are relatively small in scale because of work that has already taken place.

“We have a history of energy efficiency,” Moulton said, crediting former facilities head Theron Manning with the decades-long work.

For example, a project in the 1980s focused on recapturing some exhaust heat from Gifford’s inpatient unit to reclaim energy. The building’s pumping system has been simplified to replace many smaller pumps added over time with fewer larger pumps, and domestic hot water and chilled water for coolant systems have also been converted to demand-based systems.

Efficiency Vermont helped Gifford audit and identify lower cost ways to reduce energy consumption last year when the medical center and other large Vermont employers participated in a voluntary Energy Leadership Challenge.

Gifford is also part of the national Healthier Hospitals Initiative, which included Efficiency Vermont, Vermont hospitals and the Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems.

Vermont is the first state in the nation to have all hospitals join the initiative, which includes energy reduction.

“We have been very impressed with the work that Gifford has done to manage energy usage and promote sustainability,” Richard Donnelly of Efficiency Vermont said in the release from Gifford.