Hospital launches water conservation campaign

With the intense Florida heat, Florida Hospital Flagler has established an extensive air conditioning system to effectively maintain a comfortable temperature throughout the hospital. While most Floridians have an AC unit for their home, the unit for Florida Hospital Flagler is obviously far larger and much more technical and complex. The hospital was consuming approximately 1 million gallons of potable city water per month just to maintain the AC units, until they decided to put in a well...

• Florida Hospital Flagler cuts use of city water from 30,000 gallons per day to zero after revamping AC system

PALM COAST, FL, Jan. 10, 2008 -- With the intense Florida heat, Florida Hospital Flagler has established an extensive Air Conditioning system to effectively maintain a comfortable temperature throughout the hospital. While most Floridians have an AC unit for their home, the unit for Florida Hospital Flagler is obviously far larger and much more technical and complex.

The AC system starts with two centrifugal chillers that are located outside of the hospital building and chills water to a brisk 43°F. This water is then circulated through the AC system, pumping into an air handler within the hospital and cooling the air. The air handler takes the moisture, humidity and heat out of the air within the hospital and pumps cooled air back in. As the water in the AC system cools the air, the water warms to approximately 55° F, and it is pumped back to the centrifugal chillers. The chillers transfer the heat from the circulated warmed water to water that is 96° F. This hot water is sent through a cooling tower unit. It enters the tower at the top of the unit and cascades down through the tower, collecting at the bottom of the unit at a much cooler 86° F. Because there is much evaporation in the cooling of the water through the tower, water must be continually added to the system for it to maintain cooling the air within the hospital walls.

"Florida Hospital Flagler was consuming approximately 1 million gallons of potable city water per month just to maintain the AC units," said David Kovacs, Florida Hospital Flagler Facilities Director. In September 2006, the City of Palm Coast informed Florida Hospital Flagler that they had originally purchased 10,500 gallons per day of water capacity credits and were now consuming more than 30,000 gallons per day.

In order to significantly reduce their consumption of water treated by the municipality, Florida Hospital Flagler installed a well. By August 2007, the well had been implemented and was functioning efficiently. "Since the installation of the well, Florida Hospital Flagler has used zero gallons of city water to maintain the AC units," said Kovacs.

The city of Palm Coast is thrilled that Florida Hospital Flagler implemented this city-water conservation effort. "We are glad to see that Florida Hospital Flagler was able to reduce Water Plant and system capacity needs to this extent, and it was also great ingenuity on their part," said Stephen Flanagan, Palm Coast City Utility Development Manager. "Obviously, we are happy they have cut back their potable water usage by approximately 1 million gallons per month. Not only does this conserve Water Plant and system capacity infrastructure, but it also cuts back on the chemicals and energy used during the water treatment process."

The hospital's AC unit still has access to city water, just in case the well was to malfunction. "The city's water pipes still work, but they are only in place as a back-up to the well's pump," Kovacs said. "If the well system was to break down, the city water would kick-in until the well system could be fixed again, allowing the AC system to function without disruption throughout the hospital. It is also important to note that the well system was designed so that there could be no possible means of cross connection or contamination to the city water system."

As a result of the success of this water conservation technique, Florida Hospital Flagler has begun to examine other ways to cut back on their city water consumption. The hospital has installed a waterless urinal in one of it's public bathrooms. These urinals provide a saving of 1.5 gallons per flush. Florida Hospital Flagler is now looking to switch out more of the traditional urinals for the efficient waterless urinals. In addition, all of the hospital's faucets have water-saving devices installed, allowing sufficient, yet restricted water flow.

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