The New York Hospital Queens (NYHQ), located in Flushing and serving a community of  about 115,000 people each year, is upgrading its 55-year-old infrastructure as part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s PlaNYC ‘s green energy initiative. The hospital aims to find new ways to conserve its resources, preserve the environment, and cut costs through innovative retrofitting, while taking part in a citywide initiative to reduce hospital carbon emissions. As of September 2011, the NYHQ reported a 28% reduction in carbon emissions.

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The hospital aims to use environmental sustainability resources as a means to promote public health for both its patients, and  for local communities throughout Queens. The NYHQ’s sustainability program will implement green technologies to save energy and water through internal projects and partnerships with green organizations like NYSERDA and the EPA. The decision to overhaul the hospital’s energy infrastructure also comes as a result of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s PlaNYC challenge to hospitals and universities to reduce carbon emissions citywide to 30% by 2030.

NYHQ’s green projects include replacing three 1,100-ton gas fired absorption chiller plants. One of the existing chiller units was replaced with a 1,200-ton electric centrifugal chiller last spring, which was partially funded through NYSERDA and provided the hospital with a $87,000 rebate. The switch from a natural gas to an electric driven chiller contributed to a 7 percent reduction in overall energy consumption and emissions; the chiller reduced annual carbon emissions by 1,655 metric tons, the equivalent of 325 passenger vehicles.

With 1/3 of electricity consumption coming from lighting, the hospital also developed a daylight optimization & lighting control program, installing occupancy sensor controls and photocells to reduce energy use. Photocells use light sensative cells similar to solar panels. They turn off electric lighting in areas where large amounts of natural daylight are available, allowing the hospital to offset interior lighting costs and providing more exposure to sunlight.

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Infrared technology upgrades also allow lighting in other areas to sense movement, and turn off lights after a set amount of time when no movement is detected. The hospital estimates up to 60% in energy savings through sensor technology alone. Approximately 150 light fixtures were outfitted with these controls, saving 48,000-kilowatt hours of electricity per year, and more than $8,000 in savings.

The NYHQ’s green retrofit program also targeted the central heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment, which is controlled through a centralized computer called the Building Maintenance System (BMS). The hospital saved 150,000 kilowatt hours of electricity and $25,000 in utility costs by shutting down air handling units through the BMS when they are not in use.

Finally, the NYHQ is launching a comprehensive recycling program, which now accounts for 15% of all waste being recycled. The hospital has also acquired a biodigester machine that uses microorganisms to decompose food, waste, and other organic material into sewer-safe water. The hospital is looking into the feasability of combined heat and power (CHP), which would generate power within the building through the use of heat. By using a clean source of power, consuming the power on site, and capturing the waste heat for use inside the hospital, CHP offers a powerful source for alternative energy and environmental sustainability.

“Only three-and-a-half years into the challenge, many institutions are on track to achieve their 30% reduction well in advance of the ten-year timeline,” reported the April 2011 PlaNYC report. “Several universities and hospitals have already surpassed the goal and are eager to commit to a more ambitious target.” No doubt NYHQ will be looking for a bigger target, as the hospital has already reduced emissions by 28 percent.

+ New York Hospital Queens