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ENERGY STAR Labeled Building Profile

John D. Dingell VAMC
4646 John R. Street
Detroit, MI 48201
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The John D. Dingell VA Medical Center is a 2.2 million square foot full service medical center in Detroit Michigan that provides primary, secondary and tertiary care including acute medical, surgical, psychiatric, neurological, and dermatological inpatient care. We also run mental health clinics that include substance abuse treatment, a day treatment center; a community based psychiatric program, a nursing home care unit, and a Health Care for Homeless Veterans (HCHV) program.

At the John D. Dingell VA Medical Center, we continually strive to improve our energy performance through energy conservation and green practices. Our Facility Operations Specialist oversees the facility's energy consumption data and various members of the facilities department and engineering teams identify efficient and economical projects to improve our energy performance. We present a list of potential projects to upper management on an annual basis and successfully incorporate energy management projects into our annual budgets. In addition to paying attention to energy, our facility also has instituted a Green Environmental Management System that focuses on various "green" projects to maximize sustainable building performance and achieve savings.

Our goal to operate using the least amount of kilowatts (kW) possible during peak and off-peak periods drives our effective energy management program and has helped us reduce our annual peak demand from 8,000 kW to 6,400 kW. As part of our efforts to continually improve efficiency within our facilities we have executed several efficiency projects including:

Lighting: In 2001, we started replacing all T-12 lamps with T-8 lamps and continue to do so whenever rooms with T-12 lamps are closed for renovation or efficiency upgrades. As of 2006, we have outfitted nearly 70 percent of our patient care areas with T-8 lamps. The retrofitting project cost $108,176 and we expect it will pay for itself in a couple of years. Additionally, we have replaced several high energy metal halide lights with compact fluorescent lights, installed several occupancy sensors throughout the facility, and only use LED exit signs.

Fan and Pump Systems: We retrofitted 95 percent of our fans with efficient motors and variable frequency drives (VFDs). We upgrade fans on an as-need basis and finance these upgrades through our regular maintenance budget. Our central energy management system sets a maintenance schedule for all fan and pump systems.

HVAC: We operate high efficiency motors and 95 percent of our air handling units and exhaust systems have variable frequency drives (VFDs). Our facility also includes a million gallon thermal storage system to reduce energy use during peak hours. In 2003, we installed a VFD on one of our 800 ton York chillers to reduce kW in low load conditions. The initial cost for this installation was $125,000 and was financed through our medical center funds with an estimated 2-3 year payback. We also have glycol heat recovery loops on all our outside air units and liquid level control on our chillers allowing us to use cooler water to reduce energy consumption.

Operational Controls: During summer time, we establish setback times on 18 of our air handling units so they automatically shutdown between 5 PM and 5 AM. The remaining air handling units have specific temperature set points where the discharge air temperature is increased from 60 ?F to 65 ?F after 10 PM to reduce energy use. We also installed manually operated occupied/un-occupied switches in the operating rooms to reduce air flow when rooms are un-occupied.

Maintenance and Training: Preventative maintenance of boilers and HVAC systems are an integral part of our energy management activities. We utilize our central building control system to schedule preventative and routine maintenance for building systems and equipment, as well as building tune ups.

We regularly check combustion in our boilers and replace filters and belts on a regular basis. Additionally, we hired an external firm to complete a steam trap survey in our facility. Repairs are ongoing to fix the identified faulty traps. Recently we added enthalpy control so we can more efficiently use outside air for heating and cooling and have reduced the perimeter re-heat temperature from 170 ?F to 140 ?F. We regularly clean the return air and exhaust flow stations to remove dirt that could reduce the efficiency of air flow.

Along with maintenance, we encourage staff training as often as possible. Our operations staff members who manage our central energy management system from Siemens are encouraged to attend Siemens classes to enhance their skills in operating this system. Staff members also receive master operator certificates through the training.

We only use ENERGY STAR qualified PCs in the medical center and each department is encouraged to other purchase ENERGY STAR qualified products. In addition to encouraging the use of energy efficiency projects, we also execute green programs to maximize savings within our systems. We have recently introduced a pilot project in which several of our toilets are outfitted with a mechanism to reduce water use. If successful, this project will be replicated throughout the facility and will help us save a million gallons of water a year.

Our hospital began tracking its energy performance through the EPA's energy performance rating system in 2006, as part of the Veteran Affairs newly established in-house automated benchmarking system. With all our efforts, we earned the ENERGY STAR in 2006. We receive tremendous support from upper management to maximize our operational efficiency through conservation projects. Our aim is to continue the successful energy performance in our facility as we continue to look for opportunities to build on our existing efforts.


We communicate with our employees on a regular basis through bi-weekly publications that highlight energy efficiency projects.  We also encourage our staff to set their home and work thermostats at 68 degrees in winter and 75 degrees in summer.  We hold annual, and as-need, meetings with upper management to present our efficiency projects for the year. 


"At the John D.Dingell VA Medical Center, our dedicated team strives to augment our operations through efficiency and conservation to provide high quality and cost effective services to our residents. As a hospital we are continually geared towards implementing the most economical and green projects to ensure maximum returns."

-- Robert Abdo, Facility Operations Specialist, John D. Dingell VA Medical Center

Please note: Narrative information in this profile has been provided by Department of Veterans Affairs or a representative of this facility. Other building information was verified and submitted to EPA at the time of application. Building energy performance, operating characteristics, and ownership/management may be subject to change over time.

Federal Building

Building Owner:*
Department of Veterans Affairs

Property Manager:*
Department of Veterans Affairs

Year(s) Labeled (Rating):
2006 (89)
2007 (90)
2008 (89)
2009 (88)
2010 (93)
2011 (85)

Facility Type: Hospital (General Medical & Surgical)

Total Floorspace: 2227700 sf

Year Constructed: 1996

Contract Type: None

Technologies Used:
   Stage 1-Recommissioning
   Stage 2-Lighting
   Stage 3-Load Reductions
   Stage 4-Fan Systems
   Stage 5-Heating and Cooling Plant
   Other Technologies/Strategies