310 Sansome Street
P.O. Box 729
Philipsburg, MT 59858
(406) 859-3271

Going Green to save $6,000 annually

June 1, 2011

It hasn't happened too often in the past, but sometimes when the helicopter comes in the hospital windows have cracked.

"Usually it's just the angle they come into the helipad there and the rocks do fly," said Sharon Fillbach, "in the past they have cracked some of the single pain windows so that will definitely be an upgrade there."

According to the Granite County Medical Center's (GCMC) comptroller, the hospital in Philipsburg will be receiving new double pain windows in the west part of the facility. Fillbach explained that more than fend off stray airborne rocks from helicopters, the new double pain windows will increase energy efficiency at the facility.

The windows and labor to install them came from money the hospital secured through a Montana Department of Environmental Quality. Fillbach said that the hospital applied for the federal stimulus funded grant last fall.

"There was leftover stimulus money from the Obama Administration for critical access hospitals," she said noting that the grant was available for energy efficiency upgrades.

But before the facility could apply for they had to complete an energy audit.

"There was a short term window to get that audit and application in," she said, "we're always out there trying to find funding for this place and projects."

Fillbach explained that Northwestern Energy completed the audit and gave the hospital recommendations for greater efficiency such as converting the electric dryers to natural gas, changing some light fixtures, and the replacement of the near 60 year old windows in the west section of the facility.

According to documents from the audit as well as the grant application there are six things that the hospital will do to gain greater energy efficiency and reduce their consumption by 11 percent annually. According to Northwest Energy’s calculations the replacement of the windows should save the facility $1,776 per year. The conversion of the dryer from electric to gas should save the facility $4,275 per year. With the replacement of light fixtures and the addition of a vending miser on the hospital’s vending machine the total amount saved by the hospital annually will be $6,495.

Those savings would pay for the total cost of the project in 4.44 years.

But the hospital will actually see a return on the investment in the first year. The grant will be in the amount of $25,000, but the hospital will need to match those funds with $3,842 of its own money. In addition, the hospital will receive $2,60 worth of energy credits which reduces the amount the hospital must pay to $1,782 and allow the hospital pay off their contribution to the project in less a few months.

The new windows look somewhat different than the old ones and Fillbach said that should be an asset to the outside of the building.

"It'll give it a new fresh look," she said.

According to information provided by GCMC Administrator Jeff Prater the window project will use 284 hours of local contract labor and the cost of the windows was about $12,000 from the grant money. He added that a stipulation of the grant is that the project must be complete by August 15 which he said will happen.

"They're going to kind of do it one window at a time so they don't interrupt the hospital," said Fillbach additionally noting the progress of the window installation will be weather dependent.

As for the old windows, Fillbach said that the aluminum frames and glass will be recycled through the county's solid waste site.