- Published: 18 March 2012
- - Written by By Devon Bodkin, Idaho State Journal
POCATELLO — Staff members gathered near a self-playing grand piano and 15-foot indoor water cascade in the new Portneuf Medical Center’s massive lobby Wednesday to hear CEO, Norm Stephens, announce the recently completed hospital’s latest award, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).
The award comes from the U.S Green Building Council, an organization dedicated to sustainable energy-efficient building design and construction.
During the event Wednesday, hospital officials said the building’s array of state-of-the-art energy features played a key role in attaining the LEED certification.
“We put a lot of technological features into the building,” Stephens told onlookers in the lobby. “We did this not only to make the hospital look pretty but to make it an environmentally responsible facility.”
According to Stephens, even the blinds that cover the hospital’s massive lobby windows automatically lower depending on outside temperatures.
“All the fill that you see in the floor is made from recycled material,” PMC Engineer, Tom Williams said Wednesday. “Even the ceiling tile is made from recycled material.”
Taking a small group up to the hospital’s sixth floor, Williams showed off what he called the “lungs” of the building.
“This return fan is currently running at only 80 percent power,” Williams said, pointing to a computer screen attached to one of the building’s many air filters.
Like most utilities throughout the building, the return fans run via variable frequency drives (VFD). VFDs automatically monitor the building’s heating and cooling needs, conserving air-flow during more moderate outside temperatures.
Leading the small group onto the roof, Stephens said even the insulated coating that covers the building is specially designed to keep Idaho’s cold air out, while retaining heat inside.
Although he said he needs a full year to adequately assess natural gas savings, Stephens calculated that the new facility’s overall kilowatt usage is 26 percent less than that of the old medical center.
“That works out to be about a $21,000 a year savings,” Williams said, comparing current savings to those of the former Portneuf Medical Center, which was three times smaller.
Hospital officials said Wednesday that having a much bigger hospital while reducing energy costs is a win-win for everyone, including patients.
“We can pass savings onto consumers,” Williams said after the event. “Being energy efficient lets us give better care to our patients.”