Mercy Hospital Booneville was, at one time, notorious for being the least energy efficient facility in the Fort Smith region.
Recognizing a huge opportunity, the Fort Smith regional facilities team partnered with Bernhard TME Engineering in 2016 to develop an energy-savings project. The result has been rebates from utility companies totaling $112,783.86 to date, with future projections indicating a 33 percent reduction in utility costs for an annual savings of $61,000.
The hospital building opened in 2008 but needed upgrades to become more energy efficient, according to Dane Douglas, manager of plant operations for Mercy in the Fort Smith region.
“We knew all the tools were there for it to be modernized,” he said.
Greta Wilcher, vice president of finance for Mercy in the Fort Smith region, noted along with Douglas that something needed to be done to reduce energy costs.
Maintenance staff had cleaned air conditioning coils, changed filters and did what it could to increase efficiency.
“It helped a little bit but not nearly enough,” Douglas said.
Douglas and his team had done many energy-savings projects over the years, including in Fort Smith, Ozark and Waldron. They knew it was time to do a project in Booneville. An assessment included reviewing the entire heating and air conditioning system.
After the capital improvement project was approved, a team was put together to implement changes such as new AC and boiler controls and retrofitting LED parking lot lights to photo cells instead of timers. The goal was to fully automate systems to be more efficient.
The project included a building recommissioning, which is a methodical process of testing and adjusting existing building systems such as mechanical, plumbing, electrical, utility plants and lighting.
“It was a team effort. It took a little while, but we got it done,” Douglas said. “It makes me feel like we’re being good stewards with our resources.”
Mercy energy-saving projects in Fort Smith have resulted in about $250,000 in utilities rebates since 2001, he said.