Province kicks in $500,000 for KBRH greening project

A new "green" refrigeration project is in progress at the Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital

Creating steam to cool a large building like the regional hospital is dated technology that costs a lot of green to maintain.

Keeping with energy conservation initiatives that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, a new refrigeration project is in progress at the Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital (KBRH).

As part of the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) Carbon Neutral Capital Program, the hospital received a $500,000 influx to replace its existing absorption chiller with a high efficiency electric chiller.

The Refrigeration Energy Conservation project relates to the replacement of an old chiller that required steam production in order to cool the hospital in the warmer months, explained Karl Hardt, Interior Health’s (IH) communication officer.

“Basically, the old system required us to expend energy generating steam in order to cool the facility.”

The project is well underway, with the new system expected to be operating in time for summer weather.

The total budget is just over $650,000 with additional funding from the West Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital District (RHD) and the health authority.

In a related project, another $427,300 is being invested to connect the new chiller with two other chiller systems already in place, creating a single system that will operate far more efficiently.

“In shoulder seasons, when it’s less hot, we will be able to cool KBRH using one chiller instead of running all three as we have had to do the in past,” said Hardt, mentioning that IH is funding 60 per cent of the project and the RHD, 40 per cent.

“Combined, these projects will reduce electrical and gas consumption at KBRH, as well as those related costs, and reduce the carbon footprint for the site,” Hardt added.

The ministry’s program provides capital funding for health authorities to undertake capital projects that reduce energy costs, demonstrate clean technology, lowers emissions and achieve other energy improvement or benefits such as air quality improvements.

“The B.C. government has a policy related to green buildings,” explained Laura Heinze, from MOH’s media relations.

In 2007, the government committed that all new provincially-owned facilities must be built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards, which is a rating system recognized as the internationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings.

“Regarding upgrades to various building systems,” said Heinze. “Health authorities consider energy and environmental performance as part of their planning.”

The Carbon Neutral Capital program was established in 2012, and to date, 23 projects have been approved that will save on energy costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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