The Down and Lisburn Health and Social Services Trust is part of the National Health Service. The trust has a clearly defined energy and environmental policy with two main objectives. The first is to reduce its overheads, wherever possible, so that quality patient care can be improved through more effective management of funds. The second is to reduce harmful CO2 emissions in line with the government’s commitment to the Kyoto Protocol. Reducing emissions helps to create a cleaner local environment and sets an example to private sector companies, making them more aware of their responsibilities.
The trust has an excellent record of reducing energy consumption, having won many energy efficiency awards and certificates.
The Trust's energy policy
The Down Lisburn HSS Trust has 58 buildings, including general hospital services; acute hospital patient care, elderly care and mental care buildings; and GP and training centres. As part of its commitment to reduce energy, the trust has guidelines for considering products that claim to reduce energy consumption. A product must have acceptable supportive evidence before the trust will consider it for short-term tests. The trust is bound by the Patients Charter, and patients’ welfare is of utmost importance. A test on any product will immediately terminate if comfort levels are not maintained. A product must also have acceptable engineering logic to capture our full consideration.
If the trust decides that there is conclusive evidence during initial test conditions that the product has performed well without any side effects, then the test is normally extended to a 12-month period. After this, if the trust is completely satisfied with the energy performance results, it may decide to bring the product to the attention of others in the form of a case study. This does not mean the trust endorses the product, but it is an indication for any other interested parties that the product has demonstrated its ability to reduce energy consumption in our buildings, and would have merit for their own applications.
Background to the trial
In 1997, the trust decided to evaluate boiler-optimising units as part of its energy policy. Previously, this type of control appeared to be fairly basic, but advances, particularly in electronic technology, suggested that some of these controls had developed considerably, while others were just starting to enter the market. The trust conducted a thorough assessment of these controls and divided them into two categories. The first category included controls that had little or no intelligence, which would make them suspect under the heavy loading conditions at some of the trust’s hospitals. The second category included those controls that were more sophisticated, having intelligence and engineering logic. The trust decided to consider only those controls in the second category, due to their ability to have at least some load-demand logic. Within this category, three units appeared worthy of extended consideration. The trust decided to conduct initial tests on buildings that could be monitored through its BEMS (Building Energy Management System), and one particular control’s performance stood out from the others.
It appeared to have a much higher level of intelligence and an advanced logic that included self-learning features. It also had a system diagnostic facility which none of the others had. It was decided to test this unit on two buildings over a much longer period.
In February 1998, the trust purchased and installed four of the units that appeared to stand out from the others. Units were installed to the boilers of a hospital block. The heating demand for this hospital required a room temperature of 25°C, due to the inactivity of the patients. Units were also installed at a second site, which was a GP Health Centre. Unit installation was carried out by an approved contractor and took less than 90 minutes per unit.
Due to the welfare of the elderly patients at the first site, the trust repeated its stipulation that, if there was any unacceptable variation in room temperature, the test would be immediately abandoned. The trust placed calibrated data loggers to monitor room and ambient