U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Building Technologies Office
An Executive View of the Dell Business Case Video (text version)
Below is a text version of Jesus Garza, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Seton Family of Hospitals, and Bob Bonar, president and chief executive officer of Dell Children's Medical Center, discussing the benefits of building a LEED Platinum facility. In addition to this text version of the audio, you can also watch the recording (WMV 14 MB).
My name is Jesus Garza, and I'm the executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Seton Family of Hospitals. The energy difference between this facility and our other facilities is about 10 to 20 percent. That's what we realize in terms of the energy conservation coming off of this building, which is significant, given that it's a 24/7 operation.
First of all, I think you have to start somewhere. By building a hospital that's energy efficient, it begins to give you a baseline on which then you can make future decisions in terms of future construction projects, etc. We do bring people through. It is a showcase facility for us, both on the medical side and as well as its beauty. On the energy-efficiency side, I think we highlight what we are able to say and what we're trying to achieve with being a Platinum LEED facility. It is something that we show as part of the recognition that we have that this facility has been recognized as achieving.
One other thing we're evaluating right now, with JCI, where we may be able to have additional projects that could help us with that. And then Dell itself is going through its second round of audits, if you will, to determine where there might be additional savings; additional conservation that can be realized at this facility. So it provided us a good platform, and it's one that we'll want to continue to push the envelope because of the example that we want to set because of the partnership with Ellis Energy and the example we want to set for our community.
My name is Bob Bonar, and I'm the president and chief executive officer of Dell Children's Medical Center in Austin, Texas. As the president of the hospital, my major role was to work hard to make sure that we deliver the project on time, that we met our objectives, and we brought it in on or under-budget. So that would have been, really, in about March of 2003.
We've had folks here from all over the United States. And generally what we show them and where we focus that tour depends on where their interests are. So, if you had an individual who was specifically interested in energy efficiency, the first thing we would do is make sure that I didn't do the tour, because I'm not an engineer. I have a business degree, so I can talk all about the money piece and all that type of thing.
Generally, we would have the building engineer and the architect go along with them and they can point out so many intricacies of the building. For example, you can't tell it by looking at the building, but the building has four different types of windows in it, depending on whether they're facing north, south, east, or west. We did computer models of what the ambient exterior light would look like from dawn to dusk, seven days a week, all four seasons of the year, and arranged the lighting system in the building to accommodate that so that we can save energy. And you'll notice when you're in the building that if you're in a room and the sun goes down, the lights will automatically come up, and when the sun comes back out again, they automatically go down because hospitals are notoriously energy wasters. They're open 24/7, 365.
Well, the impact of energy efficiency on operating costs has been very favorable. We had a couple of rough months when we first moved into the building, because it's a large building and we had to do quite a bit of work with air handling units, and so forth, to make sure they were operating as efficiently as possible. But once we were able to get that taken care of through the commissioning process, what we found was that the energy utilization data matched very closely, and in some cases have been even better, than what the projections had originally been from the engineers. So when you look at the useful lifespan of a building of this nature, which is going to likely be somewhere between 40 and 50 years, and you consider the fact that we should then regain our investment in just under six years, obviously that has a major impact in terms of operating costs; I mean, to the tune of millions of dollars.
The way the heat exchangers and air handlers are arranged in the building is a technology that tremendously reduces the cost of cooling the building. It is a methodology that is not frequently done in terms of how they are engineered and arranged. I've been impressed with that. I've been also very impressed with the use of exterior light and how that's allowed us to reduce artificial lighting in the building. And also, I've been fairly impressed with how effective the natural surfaces of the building have been in insulating it from heat, and the windows, and how effective that's been as well.
We actually looked at various kinds of window treatments, including mechanized louvers and so forth that could be moved back depending on the location of the sun, and we eliminated those for aesthetic reasons. But the windows that we utilized have done a great job at that already.
Payback, in terms of daily operations, in addition to lower operating costs for energy, where, by the way, that's very important here in South Central Texas, where we may have 60 or 90 days or more in a row of temperatures exceeding 100 degrees. On top of that, we've seen lower staff turnover, particularly lower nursing turnover. Let's say you replace 100 nurses a year, and you multiply that by $80,000 a nurse, and multiply that over 40 years. Look at how much money you're talking about. And replacement costs for highly trained medical staff are frequently overlooked costs. Administrators have a tendency to look at a person's annual compensation. But sometimes we forget about, "What does it cost to bring that person to the bedside once you get them from their educational experience?"
We have one of the highest promoter score levels in our system, in terms of—that has to do with whether or not patients will recommend us to a friend or a relative. Our scores there are very high, especially for a hospital of our size. Actually, the payback so far is exceeding our expectations; not just in terms of financial expectations—that too—but also in terms of the mission and the role of the hospital in the community.
We're now planning a third bed tower. We plan to carry the same LEED principles forward in planning new additions, like a major bed tower, that we used in the facility in the first place, but we're also planning other things. You know, we're looking at installing biodiesel capability onsite to encourage our associates to drive more fuel-efficient vehicles. So, we continue to monitor for opportunities in the future to allow us to maintain our commitment to environmental sustainability.