Energy efficiency jumps at 100 Mile hospital

Maintenance upgrades allows hospital to run more efficiently

100 Mile District General Hospital chief engineer Richard Trippel

100 Mile District General Hospital chief engineer Richard Trippel

A new system to run the boilers at the 100 Mile District General Hospital has significantly improved energy efficiency, thanks to the ingenuity of Richard Trippel and his staff.

Trippel became the chief engineer and maintenance supervisor last October, and says he immediately took note of some problems brought forward by his new staff.

Throwing his efforts into solving the inefficiencies, Trippel notes rerouting some piping and adding some new electronic controllers have significantly lowered the carbon footprint for the main hospital facility.

“Nobody had looked at the piping. Now, we can run one boiler to control it and cycle to the other.”

A lot of money will be saved, he says, by now using only 40 per cent of the consumption seen before the design was modified.

Previous to the change, Trippel says both of the two large boilers for the main hospital were running in tandem about 70 per cent of the time.

Now, they run almost one at a time at about 30 per cent capacity, he explains, with a slight, but more productive, overlap while one ramps down and the other catches up to take over.

He adds recent changes at Mill Site Lodge also improved energy efficiency.

“At Mill Site Lodge, we had five boilers. Three produced hot water and two produced heat. We’ve eliminated the three hot water boilers, and we’re producing heat from one boiler.”

By re-piping water through a heat exchanger, the one boiler is now heating all the domestic hot water, he explains, with a second on standby only.

While the three eliminated boilers were small, Trippel notes the combined improvement results in a significant reduction in energy consumption.

“It’s a huge cost saving, it’s a huge carbon footprint saving and it’s a huge saving in tax dollars to the people of British Columbia.”

The new system is now working with “excellent” results, he says, adding another benefit came by effectively troubleshooting a long-term problem that suddenly got worse.

A squeal in the ceiling pipes that had been an annoyance for years became almost unbearable, Trippel explains, when two pumps now had to operate at 135 per cent of the recommended capacity in order to keep up with the new system flow.

The noise was heard over at Mill Site Lodge, bothering the staff and “agitating” the residents, he adds, impacting the “quality of their day and their sleep.”

Once the pumps were adjusted to run one at a time at 75 per cent, the noise was virtually eliminated, but Trippel says prior to the new system, the cause was untraceable.

On top of all the redesign and troubleshooting, these improvements included cutting, welding and rerouting some huge pipes, installing control electronics and maintaining all other hospital operations, yet Trippel proudly notes he and his team had the project accomplished within four months.