By: Justin Muszynski

BRISTOL — Bristol Hospital received recognition Tuesday from CL&P for a year-long $1.75 million project that it recently completed upgrading its infrastructure to make its facility more energy efficient.

The updates, part of a program called called Energize Connecticut, focused on the building’s cooling towers and a new heat exchanger. The system by which its heating and cooling is managed was also upgraded.

The hospital received $443,000 in financial incentives for participating in the program offered through CL&P and Yankee Gas.

“It allowed us to grow and expand and bring the building up to code and make it more energy-efficient,” said George Eighmy, chief financial officer of Bristol Hospital and Health Care Group Inc.

It is estimated the hospital will save more than $115,000 in annual energy costs and over 886,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year. To put it into perspective, Ron Araujo, manager of conservation and load management at CL&P, said that it is about the amount of electricity that 105 homes would typically consume.

“Their leadership will hopefully spill onto the other businesses in Bristol to do the same,” said Araujo.

Paul Smith, director of facilities and engineering at the hospital, broke down some of the logistics of how the updates are more efficient.

“The old equipment was very outdated and had exceeded its lifecycle,” said Smith. “It was also very inefficient by today’s standards.”

He also said that the new cooling towers force the cool air downwards rather than upwards, which flows more naturally. The new controls to the system were also improved.

“The fans before were either on full-blast or they were off entirely,” said Smith.

Now, the system can sense when the fan strength should be operating at a different pace based on factors such as temperature or humidity.

The old three-way valve system was also scrapped in favor of a two-way method.

“With the three-way valves they were bypassing the main cooling system and we weren’t getting out of it what we were actually putting in,” said Smith.

The new system also makes troubleshooting easier for employees. If an issue does arise, it can trace where the problem is making it much easier to fix.

Energize Connecticut is an initiative that encourages not only businesses, but residential households as well to explore smarter energy choices.

Araujo said subsidies that accompany energy-efficient upgrade projects will normally cover about 40 percent of the cost and in some cases upwards of 50 percent will be compensated.

For its efforts, Bristol Hospital received a plaque from CL&P and Yankee Gas.