Local officials tour energy-efficient Hershey Medical Center

The Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center opened its doors to local officials Thursday to show how it saves more than $2.7 million annually through energy efficient technology.

The event, hosted by Keystone Energy Efficiency Alliance, featured Marvin Smith, assistant vice president of facilities for the Hershey Medical Center, and campus energy engineer, Kevin Kanoff, who described the energy conservation measures that the hospital is taking and plans to implement.

Through Act 129, the state’s energy efficiency resource program, Hershey Medical Center has received just under $1.5 million in incentives. That’s on top of its total accumulated cost savings of $11.8 million.

The hospital is also working on projects like a combined heat and power plant (CHP), upgrading current HVAC systems and transitioning to all LED lighting.

“When we evaluate these projects, we consider the environmental and the broader sustainability aspects,” Smith said.

Local officials and energy efficiency advocates toured the central utility plant, where Kanoff showed the hospital’s chilled water optimization system. Hershey uses chillers variably based on outside conditions to store and reuse outside air that then circulates inside the hospital, saving money and energy.

Presently the chilled water optimization plant only provides for the cancer institute and children’s hospital, but the facilities department is hoping to expand the technology to all buildings on the 550-acre site.

“We have 13 buildings like this cancer institute building, so if we can have success with that, that’s going to drive our energy costs even lower,” Kanoff said.

The group also toured the CHP plant at the central facility, which will begin running the weekend of June 22. The CHP will utilize a jet engine and massive generator to produce electricity and store heat that would otherwise be wasted, and instead use it for space heating and cooling and other processes that require thermal energy.

“The CHP has a tremendous economic benefit to us,” Kanoff said. “Any operation costs that we save, in this case in the neighborhood of about $2.5 million, is a significant revenue avoidance. Those dollars can be spent on MRIs or other equipment to provide for the patients in central Pennsylvania.”

According to Smith, the hospital’s energy conservation efforts have decreased health care costs for patients, as well as provided more funding for research and higher education.  

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