Millions Can Be Saved Through Better Energy Management in Federal Hospitals

HRD-82-77: Published: Sep 1, 1982. Publicly Released: Sep 1, 1982.

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GAO discussed the potential of federal hospitals to reduce energy consumption and costs through improved energy management.

GAO found a potential for additional energy savings at the 19 hospitals it visited. Furthermore, they had not implemented many low-cost conservation measures, including reducing hot-water temperature, installing water-flow restrictors, repairing duct insulation, and installing low-wattage fluorescent lighting. GAO identified conservation opportunities at several hospitals which would drastically reduce their annual energy costs, and many of the energy savings measures would pay for themselves in less than a year. Conservation measures used by nonfederal institutions can be implemented while keeping lighting, temperature, humidity, and airflow within prescribed agency standards and without otherwise affecting patient safety or comfort. Most nonfederal hospitals have aggressive energy-saving programs, which have resulted in savings around 20 to 40 percent. Comparable savings by federal hospitals have not been achieved, primarily because of weaknesses in their energy management programs. GAO believes that federal hospitals, in order to achieve savings of 20 to 40 percent, would have to finance conservation measures costing about two to three times their estimated annual savings. The more costly measures should result in savings that would recover the required investment in 3 years or less, with additional savings continuing throughout the life of the equipment or building.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The services continue to implement these recommendations. Full implementation depends on completion of technical audits of all hospitals. The Department of Defense (DOD) expects that all audits will be completed within the next several years, assuming that funding support is available.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should require that the Secretaries of the Army and the Air Force: (1) conduct technical audits in federal hospitals using qualified energy personnel; (2) establish for each federal hospital quantifiable energy conservation goals based on its energy-saving potential; (3) direct federal hospitals to maintain data and report on their energy use; (4) provide their hospitals comprehensive information on low-cost conservation measures applicable to hospitals; (5) direct federal hospitals to implement cost-effective, low-cost conservation measures; (6) monitor the results of energy-saving efforts in federal hospitals and take action to ensure that feasible conservation measures are implemented when these results are not satisfactory; and (7) reset hospitals' energy conservation goals based on results of technical audits or when formerly established goals have been reached and cost-effective measures still remain.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The services have on ongoing program to conduct technical audits in all of their hospitals on a cyclical basis.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should require that the Secretary of the Navy: (1) conduct technical audits in federal hospitals using qualified energy personnel; (2) establish for each federal hospital quantifiable energy conservation goals based on its energy-saving potential; (3) provide its hospitals comprehensive information on low-cost conservation measures applicable to hospitals; (4) direct federal hospitals to implement cost-effective, low-cost conservation measures; (5) monitor the results of energy-saving efforts in federal hospitals and take action to ensure that feasible conservation measures are implemented when these results are not satisfactory; and (6) reset hospitals' energy conservation goals based on results of technical audits or when formerly established goals have been reached and cost-effective measures still remain.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) achieved a 20-percent reduction in Indian Health Service hospital energy consumption by fiscal year 1985 and set a higher-future goal.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Health and Human Services should require that the Indian Health Service: (1) establish for each federal hospital quantifiable energy conservation goals based on its energy-saving potential; (2) direct federal hospitals to maintain data and report on their energy use; (3) provide its hospitals comprehensive information on low-cost conservation measures applicable to hospitals; (4) direct federal hospitals to implement cost-effective, low-cost conservation measures; (5) monitor the results of energy-saving efforts in federal hospitals and take action to ensure that feasible conservation measures are implemented when these results are not satisfactory; and (6) reset hospitals' energy conservation goals based on results of technical audits or when formerly established goals have been reached and cost-effective measures still remain.

    Agency Affected: Department of Health and Human Services

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Veterans Administration (VA) agreed with the recommendations, but stated that most had already been implemented and no further actions were intended as a result of the report. However, GAO review found that, despite the actions already taken, more could be done.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of Veterans Affairs should: (1) conduct technical audits in federal hospitals using qualified energy personnel; (2) direct federal hospitals to implement cost-effective, low-cost conservation measures; (3) monitor the results of energy-saving efforts in federal hospitals and take action to ensure that feasible conservation measures are implemented when these results are not satisfactory; and (4) reset hospitals' energy conservation goals based on results of technical audits or when formerly established goals have been reached and cost-effective measures still remain.

    Agency Affected: Veterans Administration

 

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