Earth Day comes but once a year, but energy-saving tips and engineering projects can make savings a year-long thing for Northport veterans and the VAMC community. That was Green Environmental Management Systems Coordinator Ed Savarese’s message to all who stopped by the Earth Day display April 22 in the pavilion lobby.
The displays showcased ways to cut back on water usage and reduce power bills, which was exactly what passersby wanted to hear.
“Most of them are talking to me about what they can do around their houses to save energy,” said Savarese. “The simplest things a person can do are caulk leaks around windows and replace incandescent bulbs with fluorescent (spiral) ones, which use 75% less energy.” At the medical facility, easy access to copiers and printers topped Savarese’s list.
“Don’t hit print,” he said. “Think before you do it. If you’re going to do it, at least try to use double-sided printing and copying.”
Paper waste is something every person can strive to reduce. According to Earth Day leaflets, online bill pay would save 19 million trees per year if everyone used it.
Northport VAMC does its recycling duty by providing “burn boxes” for paper and medically sensitive information. No burning takes place, but the secured documents are hauled off, shredded and recycled. Battery recycling boxes can be found in building lobbies and nursing stations. A 55-gallon drum by the canteen store is available for people who have large quantities of batteries to recycle.
Energy Manager Jason Masters has several energy-saving projects in mind for Northport’s campus. Still in the design phase, a combined heat and power plant adjacent to the current boiler plant, could be up and running by the end of 2016. “Instead of burning natural gas just for heat, we burn it to create heat and electricity at the same time,” said Masters.
Construction on solar carports to cover the west and south parking lots may begin in July with a target completion date of late October. These giant energy-producers will save approximately 20 percent of electricity for the entire campus, he said.
Lastly, a waste water treatment project, not yet in the design phase, will use tertiary treated water found in campus ponds to water the lawns.
“We are going to be reusing water we have already treated on campus to water our lawns instead of pulling water from a natural aquifer, which will save 2 million gallons of aquifer water per year,” said Masters.
By using the treated pond water, which is higher in natural nutrients due to the treatment process, less fertilizer will be needed—a win for the environment and reduced costs for the medical center.
For more information and interesting money-saving tips, go to www.epa.gov.