Hospitals and healthcare facilities require unique HVAC systems to keep the air quality at its best at all times. While keeping patients and hospital employees comfortable is essential, patient health and lives are at stake, so HVAC systems must be highly reliable. Hospitals and medical facilities have unique HVAC needs, as departments deal with contagious diseases and laboratories have special environmental requirements. So how does a contractor approach such a complex situation?
What Guidelines are Used for Hospital/Healthcare HVAC?
Hospitals and medical facilities follow building and HVAC codes explicitly established to satisfy the extreme demands that patient care and safety will place on them. ASHRAE Standard 170 is the Ventilation of Health Care Facilities building code, established by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). ASHRAE has established widely accepted criteria and guidance for all-around building HVAC systems.
There is an ongoing process of incorporating guidelines for the operation and maintenance of HVAC facilities into ASHRAE Standard 170. The American Society of Hospital Engineers (ASHE), part of the American Hospital Association, and other clinical associations representing nurses and other medical interests have set forth these particular guidelines.
Keeping the Hospital Cool. But Why So Cold?
Hospital and medical facility HVAC systems must work at extremely high efficiency levels to keep the facilities cool, not just for comfort but also safety. Most hospital visitors notice the relative chill as soon as they enter the building. Why are hospitals so cold all the time? Here are some substantial reasons behind it.
- The operating room.
- Bacteria growth.
- Restrict cross-contamination.
Cross-contamination can quickly sicken or even kill a vulnerable patient in a hospital environment. To reduce the possibility of contamination, the air inside the hospital or medical facility is kept relatively dry to prevent condensation from traveling to other surfaces, potentially infecting patients, spoiling lab samples, or spreading diseases.
A hospital or medical facility’s ventilation system is critical to comfort and safety. Ventilation systems are crucial for maintaining outdoor airflow and indoor air quality. While infectious disease units must have closed systems to isolate and protect other employees and patients, the ventilation system is essential for controlling humidity and airflow in operating rooms, laboratories, and rooms where sick patients need protection from outside contaminants.
Components such as HEPA filters can provide significant air quality control. These filters can prevent harmful particulates from being distributed throughout a hospital’s internal ventilation system.
The importance of upgraded, more technologically advanced air handling units have become more evident as the current pandemic continues to fill hospitals with sick patients and medical personnel. Emergency conditions encourage new ways of using existing systems, incorporating out-of-the-box solutions such as chilled water-cooling systems, and planning new strategies to satisfy the challenges faced by facilities treating respiratory-based illnesses.
Save with an Energy Efficient HVAC System Today
At Henick-Lane, we have more than 50 years of experience designing and implementing HVAC systems for hospitals and medical facilities. Request a consultation or call (718) 786-7277 to get started if your hospital or healthcare facility needs a replacement or upgrades from its old heating or air conditioning system to a newer, more energy-efficient design. We look forward to hearing from you.