York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust Complete

Designed in the 1960’s and built in the 1970’s, York Teaching Hospital was typical of the opportunities for demand reduction and improved energy generation in the NHS. With a maintenance backlog, outdated lighting system and BEMS, Vital Energi were able to work in partnership with the client to identify and implement a range of energy efficiency measures and then design an optimised Combined Heat & Power (CHP) energy system.

“The scheme has gone exceptionally well. The project not only satisfies a significant element of the estate’s and facilities directorate’s long-term CIP plans, but also satisfies our commitment to reduce the trust’s carbon emissions and meet our sustainability targets.”

Andy Fairgrieve Head of Estates and Facilities

Project Overview

York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust typified the desire in the healthcare sector to lower its carbon emissions and make financial savings which it could invest in front-line clinical treatment and this desire led it to the Carbon & Energy Fund whose NHS-specific framework proved the ideal way for the Trust to put the project out to tender.

The hospital was designed  in the 1960’s and built in the 1970’s, so there was large scope for demand reduction and using new technology to improve efficiency.  The Trust already had a high level of energy expertise in house and was clear that they wanted a CHP solution which would minimize carbon emissions and maximise savings over a 15 year period.

The hospital had used CHP engines in the past, which had come to the end of their lifecycle and had been removed circa 2010.  It was obvious, therefore that with the right partner, the Trust could make large improvements with demand reduction while generating more affordable and environmentally kind energy and power.


The Challenge

Brian Golding, the Energy Manager for York hospital was clear about the challenge facing the successful bidder.  “Reduce our carbon footprint, reduce our energy consumption, enhance our site resilience, and take the project forward 15 years.”

Vital Energi was confident it could deliver in all of these areas, but was also ideally structured to meet the extremely tight project schedule which saw York enter the Carbon and Energy Fund’s September 2012 tranche with the plant scheduled to go on line just 20 months later.

With a workforce in excess of 8,000, the Trust cares for over 700,000 people per year across its 10 hospitals, giving it similar energy requirements to a small town.  In 2012/13 the Trust had a combined gas and electricity bill of £2.45 million and emitted 13,586 tonnes of CO₂.

These savings would have to be achieved while upgrading outdated plant equipment and addressing a significant maintenance backlog.  Given the financial considerations it was essential that Vital Energi found a way to make these upgrades self-funding.

York Hospital operates 24 hours per day, seven days per week and the energy centre installation and upgrades meant there would have to be numerous shutdown works, so it was essential that these shutdown were arranged in partnership with department heads and work was completed to schedule to minimise disruption.

Vital Energi's Solution

Vital Energi practice a two-part strategy when it comes to designing an energy project.  Initially we focus on identifying self-funding and profit generating energy efficiency measures.

Vital Energi identified a number of energy saving measures which would bring real, tangible demand reduction and reduced carbon emissions going forward.  The hospital’s lighting was installed in the 1970’s and they were still using outdated T20 tubes.  Vital Efficienci recommended replacing the 5,400 fittings with the more modern T5 fittings which can deliver savings of over 50% energy usage while producing increased illumination.  Vital also upgraded heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) control and expanded the existing building management system.

The contract also included investing in improving some faulty infrastructure and obsolete technology.  Early in the project Vital installed two plate heat exchangers, replacing two calorifiers, which fed the 16 theatres in the theatre block.  The condensate hotwell was also replaced, along with a transformer and HV switchgear.  All of these replacements and upgrades will contribute to improved reliability and increased efficiency.

The centrepiece of Vital Energi’s new system is the 1.2MWe Combined Heat and Power engine which produces electricity, but also harnesses the heat which would normally be lost to the hospital site.  The new CHP engine will provide 100% of the electricity needed overnight and 50% of the electricity during the day.   The engine will run for the majority of the year and come offline for maintenance during the summer months when heat demand is at its lowest. Vital Energi installed a 512kWth waste heat boiler to capture heat from the Combined Heat and Power engine exhaust.

The CHP engine, along with the hospital’s three 500kVA standby generators means that they are now fully self-sufficient in electricity in the event of mains power failure..

Significant upgrades to the Building Management System will bring overall improvements for the Trust, with Brian Golding, Energy Manager for York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust stating, “The Site-wide BMS enables it to control the environmental temperatures better, it improves the resilience of the controls so we don’t get as many faults, it enables us to monitor and increase the useable information.  It changes us from being reactive to proactive.”

As with any Vital project, communication was the foundation of its success, particularly when it came to scheduling unavoidable shutdowns.  Vital Energi engineers took the time to personally build relationships with all managers and staff within the hospital, speaking to them on a daily basis to keep them informed of the details of upcoming work and to ensure we accurately understood any issues and concerns they had.  The works in the hospital had to be planned around each departmental working day when access could be allowed and services could be isolated and the strong working relationship allowed us to foster a sense of working in partnership with members of the trust.

Vital Energi was also appointed as the Energy Services Company (ESCo) due to its ability to provide a long term energy strategy which provides a robust energy generation solution combined with energy conservation measures and guaranteed performance targets.  Under a 15 year performance contract Vital Energi will deliver guaranteed savings in excess of £12 million over the contract term and reduce carbon emissions by 45,000 tonnes.  As part of the ESCo arrangement, Vital Energi will continue to monitor and control the CHP engine and boilers, ensuring optimum performance and lifecycle length.

One of the ways in which Vital Energi has distinguished itself is in its willingness to manage the risk on behalf of NHS trusts.   They were able to offer the Trust long term guarantees on its financial and carbon reduction.   The confidence in our projections allows us to guarantee carbon reduction targets and energy savings over the next 15 years, meeting any shortfall ourselves.


The Trust's desire to reduce carbon emissions has been met with savings of almost 3,000 tonnes of CO2 each year. That equals 22% of the Trust's energy emissions across all areas. Similarly, the financial side of the project has been a success, cutting energy costs by around £850,000 per year.  Vital Energi guarantee these savings for the length of the 15 year contract, meaning that over £12 million in savings can be redirected to patient care, where it will do the most good.The project is filled with success stories, such as the SCADA control system and remote monitoring system which will reduce the onsite Operation and Maintenance visits to 72 hours per week, rather than seven days per week.Vital Energi operate a comprehensive customer care programme and overall, our customer service benchmark was scored at 96%, with the client giving us 10 out of 10 in important areas such as Safety, Site Management and Communication.  Overall, our customer service scores put us in the top 96% of companies.

Key Benefits

  • CHP provides 100% of night-time electricity requirements and 50% during the day.
  • Significant savings produced through demand reduction
  • 3,000 tonnes of CO2 savings each year
  • £850,000 financial savings per year
  • Comprehensive update of obsolete plant and equipment as well as addressing maintenance back log
  • Outstanding Customer Feedback