Medical center awarded grant to help with energy efficiency

The Madison Valley Medical Center was recently awarded a grant from Montana Department of Environmental Quality for projects to enhance the energy efficiency at the center.

The grant will help address a few projects at the new facility that could help generate more than $17,000 in energy savings a year, said CEO Loren Jacobson.

The $25,000 grant was part of $300,000 in federal stimulus funds Montana DEQ received from the U.S. Department of Energy, said Kathy O’Hern, Recycling and Market Development Specialist with Montana DEQ.

The money was set aside to help rural health facilities do some energy efficiency upgrades, O’Hern said.

From an overall budget standpoint, $25,000 might not be much, but it should help take care of some small but significant projects, she said.

“That’s where we saw the need in these facilities,” O’Hern said.

At the Madison Valley Medical Center the money is going to be matched by $14,000 to help solve a design problem, Jacobson said.

In engineering new buildings, it’s common to overlook the amount of heat generated by computer equipment. At the MVMC, two rooms contain large banks of computers, he said. One room contains the computers that run the imaging equipment and the other room contains all the medical information for the center.

Both rooms generate a lot of heat, but neither have their own thermostats, Jacobson said.

So when the computers generate enough heat, “the entire building responds with cooler air rather than just in the room where the heat is generated,” he said.

The fix will save the medical center a big chunk of money, Jacobson said.

“We can be energy efficient to the tune of about $1,000 a month because we don’t have to cool the whole building to cool these two rooms,” he said.

Additionally, the grant money will be used to install motion sensing light switches, so lights will go out when no one is in a room, as well as energy efficiency programs in the elevator, Jacobson said.

The costs for all the projects will be about $39,000 and Jacobson is hoping to match the DEQ grant with other grants and donations.

“We’ve got to find another $14,000 of funding to finish these energy initiatives,” he said.

However, at a projected savings in energy costs of more than $17,000 a year, the projects will pay for themselves in a little more than two years, Jacobson said.

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