Reducing Energy Use Can Improve the Fiscal Health of U.S. Hospitals

Innovative design strategies deliver up to a 62 percent reduction in energy use, a healthier environment — and a significantly better bottom line.

Jun 25, 2013, 10:17 ET from NBBJ

SEATTLE, June 25, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- A groundbreaking study provides an innovative and cost-effective way for newly constructed hospitals nationwide to reduce energy consumption by an average of 62 percent. The study, titled Targeting 100!, identifies a process that integrates architectural, mechanical and central plant systems to deliver significant efficiencies. The proven strategies can be implemented today using existing technologies in any climate zone, giving it important national — and even global — implications.

The research team, a collaboration between IDL, NBBJ, SOLARC, TBD Consultants, and peer reviewers from all aspects of hospital design, construction and operation, looked at six diverse climate zones in the United States' most populous regions — including New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Phoenix and Seattle — to determine if integrated design methods could cut energy consumption and operating costs.

By combining energy-reduction design solutions — including sun and daylight shading controls, vacant room sensors, outdoor air supply with heat recovery systems, modified air delivery systems, thermal energy storage, and improved air-tightness and high insulation values in windows and walls — a newly constructed, code-compliant Targeting 100! hospital saves between $500 and $800 thousand a year in energy costs. The biggest breakthrough comes from addressing the reheating of centrally-cooled air, which represents more than 40 percent of annual heating energy usage.

The new research extends a regional study conducted in Seattle in 2007. The U.S. Department of Energy and the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance's BetterBricks granted the research team $1.3 million to extend the study nationally.

Implementing Targeting 100!'s strategies increases design and construction costs by a minimal 3 percent but leads to an average 9 percent return on investment each year thereafter.  An average hospital — functioning at a 2-3 percent operating margin — must generate an extra $20-30 million in revenue to have the same impact on the bottom line. Put simply, by reducing operating costs, a hospital can improve its operating margin by 25-33 percent. Depending on the climate zone, local construction and utility costs, and design scheme, hospitals can see up to a 51 percent return on investment.

In the face of widespread uncertainty about healthcare reform's fiscal impact, these strategies reduce the pressure on hospitals to increase the volume of services to sustain already minimal revenue margins. Forward-thinking facilities can implement these strategies today to provide opportunities for both gain and good.

Visit for comprehensive study results.

To read an executive summary of Targeting 100! click here.

Visit for a more comprehensive release with source information.  

About the Study Partners

The Integrated Design Lab (IDL) is an extension of the University of Washington's College of Built Environments, Department of Architecture. The IDL gives design and ownership teams access to the best building performance knowledge available.

BetterBricks is the commercial building initiative of the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA), supported by Northwest electric utilities. BetterBricks guides and inspire building professionals to embrace best practices, improve energy performance and achieve their sustainability goals.

NBBJ is a global architecture, planning and design firm with offices in the United Kingdom, North America, the Middle East and China. Its healthcare practice was recently named Firm of the Year by Healthcare Design, the No 1. Green Healthcare Architect by ENR magazine, and Most Admired by Peers in Healthcare by Interior Design magazine.

SOLARC is an engineering and energy and architectural consulting firm with offices in Eugene, Portland, Seattle and Salt Lake City.

TBD Consultants is a project and construction cost management firm headquartered in San Francisco, with offices in Seattle and San Diego, that offers guidance and control for all types of architectural construction projects.

To schedule interviews, contact:
Callie Fromm
Communications Manager
223 Yale Avenue North, Seattle, WA 98109

Heather Burpee
Research Assistant Professor
Health Design & Energy Efficiency
University of Washington, Integrated Design Lab
1501 E. Madison, STE 200, Seattle 98122

Jodi Sommers
Marketing + Communications Director
SOLARC Engineering and Energy+Architectural Consulting
541.349.0966; direct 541.868.1403
223 W 12th Avenue, Eugene, OR 97401

Martin Connor
TBD Consultants