Why is it important for hospitals to optimize their HVAC systems? The sheer size of hospitals with multiple structures, hundreds of employees and patients, and the storage of medicine pose a considerable challenge. And when the entire system goes down or even one part of it, the consequences can be serious.
For hospitals, it’s important that the HVAC system does all it needs to do while also saving energy. This is for the sake of the life-saving equipment hospitals rely on. It’s also for the sake of the fragile lives of patients. A fully optimized HVAC system has the power to save lives.
Heat, cool, and save energy
How can a custom-constructed HVAC system ensure that enough energy will be saved? There are many technical aspects of efficient energy. Energy Star, the government-backed program behind green and efficient energy, frequently releases research on energy efficiency. Let’s take a look at the most recent updates.
The criteria of an up-to-standard efficient energy system are as follows:
Properly sized equipment: It may seem a bit redundant to state this here. Nevertheless, if the HVAC equipment is off even by a fractional measurement, this can seriously alter the efficiency of the energy supply.
Duct sealant that passes inspections: Sealant leaks are a common issue for HVAC systems. Some government-backed programs have been known to order inspections to check seals for even the smallest leak around sealing.
Proper refrigerant charge: Poor refrigerant charge can lower energy efficiency in older systems by as much as 20%. It will inevitably cause component failure. This drives repairs costs, which add to the cycle of a poor system efficiency. For hospitals, this can cause a domino effect of malfunctioning equipment. Poor HVAC can also destroy sensitive medical materials, such as vaccines.
Optimized airflow: It’s not all about the SEER rating. Poor airflow can create cost issues with an HVAC system. Resistance from ductwork and registers can considerably restrict airflow, as can improper air pressure.
With a properly set up and maintained HVAC system, energy efficiency is optimized. This allows the hospital to save on energy costs and meet sustainability targets.
Hospital equipment and temperature sensitivity
In 2018, the FDA released a report on hospital equipment that requires refrigeration. Sterilization was at the top of the list.
The list of refrigeration-sensitive medical supplies is too big to list in its entirety here. The following items are those that are the most common:
- Laboratory reagents
- Dialysis supplies
- Skin substitutes and burn products
- Organ preservation storage solutions
- Dental products
- Lock flush solutions
- Human Heart Valve Allografts
- Intra-Ocular Lenses
- Urology products
- Assisted Reproduction Media Products
The proper care for these medical supplies – both temperature and humidity – is crucial to their survival rate and for their use in successfully treating patients. That’s why it’s so important for their refrigerated containers to run in sync with a properly optimized HVAC system. Frequent malfunctions in the HVAC system can jeopardize the shelf-life quality of some medical products or destroy them.
Smart HVAC: Taking it a step further
With all the nuts and bolts in place, a standard HVAC system may still not be the fully optimized option a hospital needs. Internal health care controls get more complex with every passing day. That’s why upgrading an HVAC system to a smart system is critical to ensuring that the system functions at a prime level.
Fully “smart” hospital systems are still on the horizon. Unfortunately, many hospitals lack the funds for a full optimization overhaul. Yet, incorporating HVAC with IoT devices that test room temperature may help. Monitoring the temperature of your floor rooms and patient rooms is a good way to gauge whether a circulation problem exists or not
Government regulations on smart devices
Before your hospital finances IoT devices to incorporate with the HVAC systems, keep an eye on changing government regulations. Common resources to check IoT devices for government regulations include the Department of Defense, National Security Association, and the National Library of Medicine database.
Hospitals face new challenges each day. A reliable HVAC system shouldn’t be one of them. The cost of implementing a fully-optimized modern system will pay itself back in kind. At this point, no hospital can afford to go without the best of HVAC systems.