October is Energy Action Month
October 18, 2017
VA’s Energy Management Program and VA energy managers throughout the nation have worked diligently to improve facility energy and water systems and reduce energy use and cost. October is Energy Action Month for the federal government, an opportunity to highlight these achievements while identifying new opportunities for enhanced energy performance and efficiency.
One of the most attractive options for improving energy performance in VA buildings is to contract with an energy services company to install energy and water upgrades, which VA then pays for annually with a portion of the cost savings achieved over a number of years. This allows VA to upgrade energy and water equipment and systems without the need for upfront appropriated funds. Over the past few years, VA has awarded contracts of this type representing $354 million in upgrades.
For example, VA Marion Medical Center in Northern Indiana Health Care System used an energy performance contract to fund a critical replacement of a central boiler plant, to be paid for with savings over ten years. VA Marion is projected to save $817,000 per year through this project. Actual savings to date have exceeded expectations, with natural gas use reduced by 59% and electricity use cut by 14%. This project has improved the indoor environment for patients, visitors, and staff through better heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. The Department of Energy recognized this project with a 2016 Federal Energy and Water Management Award.
A few facts about VA energy use:
- Energy performance contracts awarded through the end of 2016 will provide $642 million in savings over the life of the contracts.
- Average utility expense per square foot in VA facilities decreased 37% from 2008 to 2016, even as patient load increased by 30%.
- VA has installed solar panels at over 40 percent of VA Medical Centers, reducing utility costs through electricity generated on-site.
- Best practices such as a single, centralized contracting activity for electricity, natural gas and other fuel procurement have provided VA with $227 million in savings over the lifetime of the contracts.