Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Hershey Pa., is all about energy and resource efficiencies, which is why it adopted a new approach to managing its chilled water operation. The approach, which revolves around a software and analytics platform used to optimize three chiller plants in addition to various equipment upgrades, has allowed it to save 4.16 GWh/yr in electrical energy consumption – and shave $300,000 off of its annual electrical costs. With an incentive from the local utility of $415,799, the multi-phased initiative achieved a payback of 4.3 years.
The project also involved a shift from a constant-flow strategy to a variable-flow approach, resulting in a more streamlined and effective method for delivering as much as 14,200 tons of chilled water to the sprawling campus, said Penn State Health Campus Energy Engineer Kevin Kanoff, C.E.M.
“We used to use stepped controls to managing the plant,” Kanoff said. “But the optimization methodology now lets us run with more chillers and more pumps and do it more efficiently, which is a simpler and easier method of management and control. It really helps our operators better manage chilled water production.”
The Milton S. Hershey Medical Center (www.pennstatehealth.org) serves more than 1.2 million patients and employs 10,000 people. The campus includes two hospitals, five institutes, and Penn State College of Medicine. Annual energy consumption at Hershey Medical Center is approximately 112,000,000 kWh of electricity and 573,000 mmbtu of natural gas.
Three chiller plants serve 2.6 million square feet of air-conditioned building space. The chiller operations include a central plant that uses eight chillers and two satellite plants with two chillers each, all of which combine to provide a total of 14,200 tons of cooling. The system also includes a 1.4 million gallon chilled-water storage tank and four cooling towers. Chilled water production totals 24.8 million ton-hours. In all, 12 operators manage the chiller plants.
The Milton S. Hershey Medical Center’s central chiller plant.
The chiller optimization project is one component of a multiphase energy efficiency program that began in 2009. By 2015, the energy efficiency program had reduced the campus’ energy intensity by 20%. Yet Kanoff always knew more could be done to further improve the efficiencies of the chiller plants.
“We’re always looking at our energy use and it’s very obvious that chilled water production is a major energy user. We know our operators always do a good job and we have always had good operating strategies, but we had inklings there were good opportunities for improvement in energy efficiency,” Kanoff said.
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