A Free Steam Room Is Gone From TWH, But No Regrets

We had a secret steam room at Toronto Western Hospital.  If you knew where it was you could drop by and enjoy it, free of charge.  This place was hidden somewhere in the underground tunnel.  The heat was free from our high pressure steam and condensate pipes between the boiler plant and the hospital.  The temperature in this area was over 40°C (104°F) year around.  Most of the pipes were insulated, however,  there were still many exposed hot surfaces,  such as pipe hangers, anchors, supports, valves, condensate pumps, etc.  Due to the temperature difference between the high pressure steam (170°C or 338°F) and space, the heat loss was nonstop.

Steam RoomFigure 1: A secret steam room hidden at TWH.

Well, every cloud has a silver lining and this is how we got a free steam room.  This hot spot is hard not to notice.  The solution in the past was to remove the heat without touching the heat source.  People designed a ventilation system to draw fresh air from outside through 2 louvres and fresh air shaft,  then exhaust the hot air.

Later, when the New East Wing was constructed, the intake louvres and shaft were buried since they were right under the proposed building, so this place got hot quickly for almost 15 years.  Because of complaints, facilities management team installed 2 local recirculation fans, but they didn’t work well.  Without incoming fresh air, the heat had nowhere to go.

before after 1Figure 2: Infrared photo of same pipe hanger before and after removable jacket was installed.

With the help of our infrared camera,  we easily identified those hot spots. To fix them, we  added insulation.  Two types of insulation were used for different reasons: 

  • Permanent fibreglass insulation for those pipe racks, anchors, etc. which do not require regular maintenance and service work.
  • Removable jackets for other areas like valves, pumps, hangers and supports. The jackets have durable fibreglass cloth cover with Velcro fasteners and they can be removed and reinstalled quickly and easily for equipment service. 

before after 2Figure 3: Infrared photo of same pipe rack before and after permanent insulation was installed.

Even in the middle of the installation, people started to notice the temperature difference.  Once the job was done, the space temperature went back to normal and we don’t even need those 2 local recirculation fans any more.

With this project, we installed insulation at about 160 spots. Some of them are only as big as a CD (for those that remember what CDs are).  We will save about $5,700 of natural gas annually, which is equivalent of 38 metric tons of CO2 emission, or 8.3 cars removed from streets. 

A Skylight to Light Up Princess Margaret Cancer Centre

At the centre of Princess Margaret Cancer Centre (PM) is 2-level atrium separated by a huge and beautiful skylight on 7th floor.  Every year, there are numerous events such as Music in the Atrium, fund raising, seminars, etc. on 7th floor around this skylight area.  Continue reading

A Boost For Better, Safer and Cleaner Water Supply

Clean water is essential for modern buildings and hospitals are no exception. Toronto and many cities usually supplies tap water at around 50 psig, which is only good for low rise buildings.  At PMH the building on 610 University Ave. side is 20 story high (we got 2 levels on 19th floor and there is 13th floor which is not accessible by elevators) so there is no way city water can go that high.  Thanks to some genius Continue reading

Shine The Light Only When Needed

If you work at Toronto Western Hospital or if you have visited the site, you may know that we have an underground 2-level parking garage below Fell Pavilion.  To provide enough lighting for drivers, 21 powerful 250W high pressure sodium (HPS) lighting fixtures were installed on parking garage entrance ramp sidewall, some are outside and some are inside.  Those lighting fixtures share a few circuits together so the only way to run the outside ones is to keep all the lights on 24/7.  As an energy project manager I felt guilty every time I passed by the ramp area.

HPS was invented by GE in 1960s. The bulb contains a small amount of solid sodium inside a glass tube. When heated up the sodium would vaporize and the lamp would glow yellow.  Typical construction is shown as below:


HPS has higher efficiency when compared with Continue reading

Cooling Tower Repair at Toronto Western Hospital

Have you ever imagined hospital shutdown in the middle of summer?  It is possible if Continue reading

Cooling Tower Winter Operation at Toronto Western Hospital

Last time we talked about chilled water system upgrade at TWH.  The chilled water is pumped to various mechanical rooms to cool air supplied to the hospital, medical equipment such as MRIs and some local refrigeration machines.  Then it comes back to the central chiller plant and is cooled down by the chillers.  The chillers use refrigerant to transfer the heat from the building to condenser water side.  You may be curious where the huge amount of heat removed from the hospital goes.  The answer is Continue reading

Variable Flow Chilled Water System Upgrade At Toronto Western Hospital

At Toronto Western Hospital, the central chilled water system provides building cooling and process cooling for the whole site. It’s capable of providing astonishing 4800 ton cooling capacity. Each ton of cooling capacity is the energy needed to melt 2000 lbs of 0°C ice within one hour. That’s enough to cool about 1,200 houses! The 3 chilled water pumps are the largest at UHN rated at 200 horsepower (hp), 250 hp and 250 hp respectively.

Figure 1 One cooling ton is the energy needed to melt 2000 lbs of ice at 0°C.

Figure 1 One cooling ton is the energy needed to melt 2000 lbs of ice at 0°C in 1 hour.

Every summer, Angelo Bruni, Facilities Manager and his team would scratch their heads about Continue reading