GBMC turns up the heat on energy use

We all know it’s hot out there. Yesterday my colleague heard about someone baking cookies on the dashboard of their car in D.C.

To keep office life pleasant, companies generally pump up the air conditioning on super-hot days like the sweltering ones we’ve been dealing with this week. That means that businesses, which use the most power anyway, up their consumption during heat waves, causing power plants to run at peak load and putting a strain on the regional power grid.

Recognizing the issue, the folks at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center are doing their part to stop electricity use from skyrocketing on these miserably hot days.

GBMC has already declared five “Code Red” days this summer – June 23 and 25, and July 6, 7 and 8 – where lights that aren’t essential are turned off and the thermostat is turned up a few degrees in non-critical areas of the hospital.

GBMC’s green team started working on reducing the hospital’s peak electrical load in 2009 to reduce its costs and its impact on the environment. Last year, the hospital reduced its load by 700 kilowatts on 11 peak days, saving the hospital about $30,000.

This year’s goal is to reduce consumption by 1,500 kilowatts. Reaching the goal could mean savings of $50,000. GBMC works with South River Consulting, a Baltimore-based energy consulting firm, to keep track of high demand days.

To determine conservation measures, the hospital codes each day depending on the weather. Most days are “green,” meaning that theĀ  hospital will use standard conservation practices like turning off lights in unoccupied rooms, keeping air registers clear, closing blinds to keep rooms cool and shutting computers down at the end of the day.

On “yellow” days, hospital staff is asked to follow green protocol, with a heightened awareness. Staff follows the same steps on “red” days, but they are asked to turn off computers during the day when they are away from their desks.

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