Way forward for the NHS

Carbon Architecture featured on Decentralised Energy Website

Croydon Health Services NHS Trust has benefited from an improvement of its combined heat and power technology that could serve as an example for the rest of the cash-strapped British health service.

The Trust appointed Twickenham – based Carbon Architecture to analyse its workings and following a subsequent action plan saw emissions drop by 17% while energy spend was cut by 35%.

Croydon NHS TrustThe Estates Return Information Collection (ERIC), the main central data collection for hospital estates and facilities services from the NHS is a resource of valuable data that enables the analysis of Estates & Facilities information from NHS Trusts and PCTs in England. The data on that system provides a useful comparison to the gains made by Croydon.

ERIC’s latest annual report, published in October, reports:

  • Total costs covering the running of the NHS Estate was £8.3 billion in 2015/16, a small rise of 0.2% from 2014/15
  • Total Energy usage from all energy sources across the NHS Estate amounted to 11.9 billion kWh, an increase of 3.5% from 2014/15
  • Total capital investment in existing building and equipment has fallen 12.5% from 2014/15

At Croydon Health Services NHS Trust, a need for cost reduction and a more energy efficient approach to meeting the Trust’s demands triggered a major review of the Trust’s activities. Managers were aware that conventional energy generation has a total fuel efficiency of between 50 and 55%, while the total fuel efficiency of CHP is closer to 80% so this made it an attractive option to implement 2 x760 kWe CHP engines in 2014.

This reduced their energy cost but they then needed to know that they were maximizing the potential of the CHP engines to make further cost and energy savings. Additionally, the controls for the hospital heating and cooling systems were sub optimal and many areas had poor temperature control leading to over or under heating.

The Trust appointed Carbon Architecture due to their experience with advising high-energy users, and with NHS Trusts particularly. The team analysed the Trust’s CHP system’s potential and presented back opportunities in a quantified form that easily allowed business cases for further improvement works to be made. Working with onsite BMS engineers to analyse heat loads and target areas for improvement, they also worked with the Trust’s operator to improve CHP uptime and heat utilisation.

The optimisation process looked at electrical & heat generation efficiencies and how these utilities were used on site. This showed where improvements could be made – not only to the CHP system but the wider heat use network on site.Heating controls were installed to both reduce energy use and improve patient comfort. Meanwhile the plant room equipment was updated, which helped maximise the savings delivered by the CHP installation. Other energy reduction works onsite include making improvements to the efficiency of heating, air handling, lighting, boiler upgrades, and the addition of variable speed drives.”

The Trust’s on-going plans are based around improving monitoring and information systems to track performance and flag issues as they occur. The aim is to respond quicker to issues and identify cost savings easier and faster. This will allow the Trust to benchmark internally as well as externally using ERIC data to leverage lessons learned and reduce costs.

About Dan Jackson

Dan Jackson is a process and sustainability consultant. He has experience in helping clients reduce energy and cost in the NHS and across the hospitality supply chain, from breweries to pubs.