TAMC to be first in Maine to convert to heating with compressed natural gas

11 years ago

TAMC to be first in Maine

to convert to heating

with compressed natural gas

Other initiatives underway to ‘go green’

    PRESQUE ISLE — As the world celebrated Earth Day 2013 on April 22, The Aroostook Medical Center entered a new phase for the health care organization that is both environmentally friendly and cost-effective. 

Photo courtesy of TAMC

BU-TAMC CNG upgrade-clr-cx-sharpt-17

    TAMC UPGRADES HEATING SYSTEM — TAMC Vice President for Diagnostic and Support Services James McKenney, left, and TAMC Facility Engineer Tim Doak, right, take a moment to speak with Rick Ouellette, a master electrician from County Electric in Caribou — one of a number of local firms hired to work on TAMC’s project to convert the A.R. Gould Memorial Hospital to heating and cooling with compressed natural gas (CNG). TAMC will become the first facility in Maine and second in the nation to convert to CNG. An official “valve turning” ceremony is set for Monday, May 13, to usher in the new era on the first day of National Hospital Week.

    In the coming days, the heating and cooling system at TAMC’s A.R. Gould Memorial Hospital on Academy Street in Presque Isle will switch from using an oil fuel source to compressed natural gas (CNG), a project started last fall. The conversion will make TAMC the first facility in Maine, and second in the nation, to use CNG to both heat and cool. 
    At the official ground-breaking event for the project in October 2012, TAMC President and CEO Sylvia Getman said that converting from fuel to CNG “helps us greatly reduce our carbon footprint and makes our organization a much better steward of the environment.” 
    TAMC will officially mark the start of that new era with a unique “valve turning” ceremony to kick off National Hospital Week, on Monday, May 13, at 1 p.m.
    Vice President of Diagnostic/Support Services James McKenney said, “Natural gas is inherently efficient and abundant throughout the United States and Canada, providing clean energy for a wide range of uses, and trucked compressed natural gas has enabled businesses such as TAMC to access this low-cost alternative fuel.”
    In the future, the organization plans to use CNG to power some units that require a heavy energy input, such as clothes dryers and cooking ovens.
    “When burned, natural gas produces about 45 percent less carbon dioxide than coal, about 30 percent less than oil and about 15 percent less than wood,” said McKenney. It is “extremely efficient when it combusts, producing heat, water vapor and carbon dioxide.”
    XNG (Xpress Natural Gas) will supply TAMC with CNG by trucking it on tube trailers from a new compression station in Baileyville. In addition to lowering the organization’s carbon footprint, CNG also lowers exposure to harmful substances.
    “Natural gas produces almost no carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, dissolved solids or airborne particulates — all of which can be harmful to human and animal health,” said McKenney.
    The conversion project is a major step toward reducing negative environmental impact, noted McKenney.
    “Oil produces 30 percent more carbon dioxide when burned than does compressed natural gas. Historically we have burned approximately 400,000 gallons of No. 2 oil annually. By moving to compressed natural gas, this will significantly reduce our carbon footprint,” said McKenney.
    The conversion project will also save the organization approximately $400,000 to $500,000 annually in heating costs at the A.R. Gould Memorial Hospital, located on Academy Street in Presque Isle.
    TAMC has also expanded their methods of improving environmental impact with changes to their nutritional services department.
    Director of Support Services Eugene Curtis said, “In Food Service we have done away with foam cups and take-out trays and have switched all of our functions to using real silverware and plates.”
    Nutritional services also provide incentives for staff to make a more environmentally friendly choice. Curtis said employees who use real coffee mugs in the cafeteria get their coffee for 25 cents versus 50 cents if they use a paper cup.
    Consumers at nutritional services are joined by kitchen staff in a department-wide effort to reduce waste.
    “The kitchen separates and recycles glass, metal and plastic, and grease from our fryers is recycled and used in the community for fuel,” said Curtis.
    Curtis said that nutritional services has reduced the number of can liners that they send to the landfill by using color-coded waste receptacles for paper, and only waste receptacles have can liners. The department has also transitioned to environmentally friendly chemicals wherever possible, and rinse and recycle these containers along with other plastics.
    “Maintenance recycles wood and cardboard as well as separates and recycles universal waste such as computer equipment and fluorescent bulbs,” said Curtis.
    In addition to recycling fabricated and disposable materials, Food Service is also researching the recycling of organic waste through composting. Composting breaks down food waste and other organic waste into a fertilizer that gardeners are able to add to soil to boost its nutrient content.
    “We are currently meeting with the University of Maine at Presque Isle, Cooperative Extension Service, and the city of Presque Isle to discuss ways we could work together on composting,” said McKenney. “Going green is a way for TAMC to be a good community partner. Taking care of the environment is something positive we can do to make a difference.”
    Additionally, TAMC regularly purchases locally-grown products, including many items from the SAD 1 School Farm and other area growers to support local, sustainable agriculture. The health care organization also invites area farmers into the facility annually for a TAMC-organized farmers market held especially for employees.