The Ireland hospital, which was built in 1957, has undergone a complete overhaul of its heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system in recent years. (When it opened, it lacked a cooling system.) The project, coordinated by Trane, a large national company that provides energy-efficient HVAC systems, includes an automated program that controls climate, lighting and energy use throughout the hospital. As part of both an environmental and aesthetic makeover, reflective window film was installed throughout the building.
With the replacement of the entire heating and air-conditioning systems, the project cost about $8.8 million but is expected to provide energy savings of $1.4 million each year, the contractor says. The improvements at Ireland were a key part of a larger energy-efficiency project throughout Fort Knox and the military medical command, says Lt. Col. Guy Kiyokawa, assistant chief of staff for Installations, Environment and Facilities Management at the U.S. Army Medical Command in Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio.
One of the Armys key initiatives, he notes, is to achieve better energy efficiency in new building and renovations, especially considering that many of the refurbishing projects involve older buildings. When we do renovations, we ensure that specifications highlight the types of equipment and systems that are most energy-efficient, he says.
The hospitals focus on energy efficiency is part of a fast-developing trend in the healthcare industry, according to Gail Vittori, co-director of the Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems, a not-for-profit organization in Austin, Texas, that promotes environmentally friendly construction. The industry still lags behind many business sectors, but there are indications that it is moving quickly and forcefully into more environmentally conscious construction, Vittori says. For now, only eight hospitals have achieved a certification known as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, a designation sponsored by the U.S. Green Building Council. But about 100 hospital projects are now registered for LEED and seeking that designation through the council, which is a coalition of leaders from across the building industry. The movement is absolutely picking up speed in healthcare, Vittori says.
Brandon Marcum, a spokesman for Harshaw Trane, an independent Trane franchise based in Louisville, Ky., says the new energy systems at Ireland would likely qualify the hospital for LEED certification for existing buildings. But the project was completed before the buildings council developed a ratings system for existing structures.
While Irelands energy systems were completely overhauled, several other sections of the hospital were updated as well. The Army hospital also spent about $1.3 million for renovations that included expanding primary-care facilities; the hospital opened its new Womens Health Center in early December on the third floor of the building.
That change was made in large part to accommodate a significantly different population of patients at Ireland over the next several years, Braverman says. Fort Knox has long served as a primary site for the Armys Armor Center and School, which includes about 4,000 military and civilian employees. That center is being transferred to Fort Benning, Ga., while Fort Knox will inherit a new infantry brigade as well as the Armys Human Resources Command, among other additions, officials say. Overall, almost 4,800 permanent personnel will be added to the base, including many more families, women of child-bearing age, civilians and retirees.
Braverman anticipates as much as a 30% increase in business at the hospital in the near future, much of it in the newly renovated womens center. So the relatively small amount of money that went into renovating the third floor will definitely provide a return on investment, he says. The improvements, he notes, meet two of his principal goals.
In terms of my command philosophy, I want to generate improvements in how we are able to provide quality care for our patients, Braverman says. One of my other goals was changingand improvingfacilities to make patients more comfortable.