In a hospital-wide effort to reduce costs and improve efficiency, BWH officially launched the Bold Ideas, Big Savings program late last year. Through the program’s website (boldideasbigsavings.org), BWHers are encouraged to submit any and all cost-savings ideas they can come up with.
So far, many BWHers have inquired about lighting and water conservation. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about what BWH is doing in these areas, from BWH Engineering Director George Player.
Are BWH’s lights movement-based or on timers?
Right now, most of the lights people see across the hospital are lighting retrofits—LED lights with a combination of sensors and controlled technology. We are working to implement them in all common areas that are shared by staff and patients, such as the main and lower Pike, lobbies, stairwells, core areas in Shapiro and the Tower, and bathrooms. We went from 32-watt fluorescent bulbs to LEDs, which use considerably less energy. Also, we receive rebates on LEDs, which help to cut costs. We’ve been seeing that lighting fixtures with 10-year warranties are paying for themselves in fewer than three years with the incentives applied. Plus, there is a labor savings that comes from not having to change lightbulbs all of the time.
What about the lights in the operating rooms?
We have looked into various options for the ORs in the past, including the possibility of using motion sensors. However, there is the chance that lighting could shut off during cases where there are very small movements, such as brain surgery, so we elected not to make changes and instead rely on staff to shut off the lights when rooms are not in use. BWH has implemented some LED upgrades within the ORs.
How is BWH conserving water?
We are implementing low-flush plumbing fixtures for urinals and toilets, and in select areas, we have installed waterless urinals. We are also looking for opportunities to reduce cost and improve efficiency for all sterilizers, which use hot steam to clean medical devices after procedures and kill pathogens and bacteria. When the sterilizer cycle is done, cool water needs to be mixed with the condensed steam to reduce the temperature before we can put the water down the drain. In the past, sterilizer manufacturers ran a small water line to the sterilizers that operated continuously to cool the water. With water-saving kits, we install small valves that allow the water to run only when needed. Technology does change from year to year, so we conduct ongoing research on the best ways to save and conserve water and energy.