As I discussed in a previous post, “Optimizing Air Handling Units for Energy Savings or Improved Comfort,” energy savings can be realized by adjusting the amount of outside air that is introduced to an air handling unit during normal operation. In that article I referenced ASHRAE 62.1 to determine what the correct amount of outside air an air handling unit should mix with the return air stream. This same principle applies to air handlers in healthcare, and in many cases, there is an even greater opportunity for savings in healthcare applications.
I recently attended the Health Care Construction (HCC) Certificate workshop in Seattle, Washington. This event, organized by ASHE (American Society for Healthcare Engineering) and WSSHE (Washington State Society for Healthcare Engineering), was directed towards contractors, facility managers and construction project managers in healthcare. ASHE offers many certifications, workshops and education opportunities for different audiences in healthcare. This post will discuss this workshop and a few points I found particularly important (there were many!).
In a recent blog post, I shared my experience as an Owners’ Project Manager for a mechanical system upgrade in an office building for a large organization in Burlington, Vermont. This role has provided me with several new related projects in a healthcare facility, each varying in type and having a very different effect on the overall environment of the organization. In the healthcare environment, I have become familiar with its unique construction challenges. This post will discuss a couple of these challenges and approaches for preventing these challenges from adversely affecting the overall success of the project.
During recent functional testing of HVAC systems at a healthcare facility, part of our testing scope was to verify room static pressure relationships between adjacent sterile and contaminated spaces. In healthcare settings (and other settings where contamination control is critical) spaces can be designed to have more or less space pressurization with respect to one another—the result is that any air movement between spaces is in the direction from clean to dirty, and not the reverse.
In the mid-2000s, the late US Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) famously used an analogy for the internet as a series of tubes. The full analogy was a bad one, and was concerning since it revealed to the tech savvy public how little the congressional entities in charge of creating policy actually understood the technology to which they were attempting to tailor policy. Incidentally, the needle has not moved much in this area in the intervening decade (crypto back-door arguments being a prime example), but that is a blog post for another time.
In a previous blog post, I discussed the efficiency opportunity for airflow setback in healthcare operating rooms (ORs). Airflow setback is one of the more significant opportunities for energy savings in unoccupied ORs, and is included in the American Society of Healthcare Engineers (ASHE) white paper [PDF] on OR HVAC setback strategies. ASHE’s “Operating Room HVAC Setback Strategies” provides guidance that warrants consideration by facility engineers. In this post, I would like to highlight and qualify some of the important insights from ASHE regarding OR HVAC setback strategies.
In a previous blog post, Jennifer Chiodo discussed why energy benchmarking is beneficial for everyone, whether it’s for a residential building or a commercial building. Benchmarking allows you as the building owner to not only understand how your building is doing from an energy standpoint over time, but it also compares the building to other similar buildings in its class. Using the Energy Star Portfolio Manager online benchmarking tool, you can monitor a building’s energy usage over time by setting goals and comparing the overall energy use intensity to a baseline year.
Proper ventilation, airflow, temperature, and humidity are needed for successful surgical operations. The design requirements for these parameters in healhtcare settings are defined by ASHRAE Standard 170, and are generally straightforward. However, OR (operating room) users often try to operate OR HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning) systems at temperatures and humidity levels outside of the standard design range. A better understanding of OR HVAC parameters would help OR designers and users achieve more effective OR functionality.
Healthcare operating rooms (ORs) are one of the most critical types of indoor environments. That means OR designers and operators tend to pay a high level of attention to OR HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning) systems. However, many OR designers and users overlook opportunities to operate OR HVAC systems more efficiently.
Building commissioning (Cx) can be a useful risk management tool for facility managers and owners. Incorporating risk management in building Cx requires an understanding of three basic elements: threats, vulnerabilities, and associated risks. Risks characterize the likelihood of vulnerabilities being affected by threats. In a risk management process, once risks are defined they are prioritized for the development of risk reduction strategies. Building Cx provides unique risk reduction and risk management opportunities for facility managers and owners.