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Climate Control - in FH facilities & beyond!

Profile: Dave Simmons, Regional Supervisor, Facilities Maintenance Operations, Fraser Health Authority.

As part of GreenCare's Earth Month series, we are thrilled to profile the work of health care staff and their contributions to healthier facilities, stronger communities and a healthier environment. 

Read our interview with Dave Simmons, as he describes his work connecting infrastructure improvements, sustainable energy saving and cost effective projects with FHA. 

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Q. Describe your role within health care.

I have been in my current role of Regional Supervisor for approximately five years. In this capacity I oversee a regional plumbing crew who travel throughout Fraser Health Authority (FHA) replacing obsolete systems and plumbing infrastructure. As part of my role, I strive to seek out innovative and cost effective solutions to the infrastructure of our facilities. One of my goals is to ensure our facilities run efficiently and to minimize maintenance costs.

Q. As Fraser Health's FMO Regional Manager, what do you do? And what have you learnt in this role?

As a Regional Supervisor, I project manage infrastructure projects for FHA, searching for innovative, sustainable and life cycle tested solutions. I have learned that Health Care solutions need to be well thought out in relation to their effect and impact on client care. Not all solutions are viable in health care and code and licencing requirements have a major impact on all possible solutions. Department and personal risk tolerances must be considered before, during and upon project completion.

Q. We heard that you have been instrumental in helping with energy efficiency projects and upgraders, such at the implementation of the boiler replacement projects at Delta and Mission Memorial Hospital. Can you tell us about those projects and what made them successful?

The energy efficient carbon reduction projects at Delta Hospital and Mission Memorial Hospital predominately included the replacement of Heating Hot Water and Domestic Hot Water systems. The Facilities Maintenance & Operations (FMO) and Energy Management (EM) teams, with guidance from an engineering consultant, worked very closely to determine a viable and reliable energy saving solution to the upgrade of obsolete equipment with poor energy efficiency. My role for these two projects included direction and advice with equipment selection, plus acting as the General Contractor to ensure that purchasing, delivery, placement and installation of the new equipment was successfully implemented. I ensured that the contractors engaged stayed true to our vision and standards of the project.

Even during the project installation, additional energy reduction opportunities can materialize and it is essential that we as a team quantify these to determine the return on investment. Our overall objective is to provide sustainable, energy efficient replacement equipment at a reduced cost.  For example, at Delta Hospital, we saw an opportunity to add energy valves to the Heating Hot Water system. These valves increased the efficiency of the system and further improved client comfort. Thus, we expanded the project scope, but kept the project on budget by utilizing BC Hydro and Fortis BC incentives.

Q. What are your future goals / hopes in terms of energy management at FHA?

My future goals are to continue to work closely with the Energy Management team to do more sustainable energy saving and cost effective projects with FHA. I believe that reduction in energy usage is possible at the same time as building a modern and sustainable infrastructure in healthcare for the future. We will all one day be reliant on the infrastructure for our own health. Without proper infrastructure there will be no healthcare. Every dollar spent wisely on infrastructure is returned in multiple for client care. 

Q. April is Earth Month, with Earth Day on the 22nd. What does Earth Day mean to you?

I think every month should be earth month. It’s interesting; in my 20’s I worked for oil companies, working off shore on oilrigs in the Arctic. We would fly up to Point Barrows on the Arctic Coast and head into areas where ships could hardly pass through the ice. Now, there are cruise ships easily passing through those areas, as the ice has melted. In those days, we saw polar bears all the time and now they are starving to death. At that time, no one realized the damages. We just thought that the earth would heal itself. Now, more than thirty years later and there is a much greater awareness and more actions to find solutions. I see Energy Management as past of this. And working with the team at FHA, we work together to get things done that will have a positive impact, enhance infrastructure and improve efficiencies.

For my part, each April, I plant a tree. Last year, I planted an apple tree and before that it was a pear. And a while ago I planted a Maple tree that is now massive. We each need to take care of ourselves and do our part to contribute in some way, to make a difference.