As an area-leading medical MEP firm, the team at Cleary Zimmermann Engineers is well versed in the nuances of HVAC design for medical facilities. While all the systems in a healthcare facility are important and must be carefully engineered to be reliable, the HVAC system is of the utmost importance as it can serve to help prevent the spread of infection while ensuring the occupant comfort for patients, doctors, staff and visitors. A thoughtfully planned HVAC design with appropriate air filtration and pressurization can improve health outcomes for patients while ensuring the building stays cool on hot Texas days.
In this month’s article, we’ll share a few of the benefits of upgrading your medical facility’s HVAC system.
As any building manager in Texas knows, keeping a large facility climate controlled can get expensive. The same is true – if not even more so – for hospitals and medical facilities. The HVAC system is the top consumer of energy in all buildings. The need to keep the temperature at the levels mandated by the Texas Department of State Health Services combined with the load created by building envelope, internal load (lights and people), and outside air can drive utility costs through the roof.
Upgrading your HVAC system with new equipment can be one way to cut down on energy consumption. Newer systems tend to be much more energy efficient, and the system, holistically, as well as the individual pieces of equipment within the system, must meet the current and future needs of the facility it serves.
The type of system specified makes a huge difference here. Choosing a conventional Direct Expansion (DX) system may be a lower cost upfront, but will not be as energy efficient in the long run as a Chilled Water system. Choosing the best option for the specific medical facility, though, will come down to need, space, and available budget. Most medical MEP engineering firms are well-versed in working with both, and can help recommend the system that will best fit your facility needs.
Air Filtration / Pressurization
Sanitation and air filtering are important in any building, but that need is amplified exponentially for medical and healthcare facilities. Keeping airborne contaminants to a minimum is critical, and upgrading your HVAC system can be one way to help.
When choosing the best system for your facility, consider the addition of bipolar ionization tubes and UV lights to your HVAC system. While filtration can be helpful, especially HEPA filtration, it is not necessarily 100% effective at eliminating contaminants. COVID-19 virus particles, for example, are small enough to move through a HEPA filter if they are not attached to any larger particles. Appropriate pressurization within medical spaces and hospitals is the key to preventing the spread of contaminants from one space to another.
Bottom line, staying up-to-date with a modern system can help keep the both facility staff and patients safer from airborne illnesses and contaminants.
As our world becomes more technologically advanced and relies more and more on automated systems, many older HVAC designs are struggling to keep up. This disconnect between emerging technology and more analog, conventional HVAC hardware makes it difficult to maximize system and maintenance efficiency.
However, working with an experienced medical facility HVAC engineer can help to ensure that your new system is built with both the present and the future in mind. Creating a design that allows for future technology – such as building management systems, wireless controls, automated system reporting, and more – can help ensure that your system is easily maintainable, not only helping the system run more efficiently, but also prohibiting the need for another HVAC redesign in a relatively short amount of time.
When considering upgrades to your medical facility, many of the other systems may seem more critical and pressing. However, the benefits of upgrading the HVAC design for medical facilities are clear and should be prioritized. An HVAC system specifically engineered by healthcare MEP specialists can make your medical facility more energy efficient, more adaptable, and less likely to spread airborne contaminants.
For all your healthcare facility MEP needs across the state of Texas and beyond, contact the professionals at Cleary Zimmermann. We would love to help with your project, and have applied our craft to countless hospitals, clinics, and medical offices across San Antonio, Houston, Central Texas and Bryan/College Station. Reach out to our team today to get started.