As published in MED Magazine, Sept/Oct 2015
When a medical facility’s internal environment – temperature, humidity, air quality – is not what it should be, the problem can be more than uncomfortable for staff and patients; it can even be dangerous. Health conditions can be complicated by environmental conditions and contaminants can spread if ventilation systems aren’t properly managed.
In addition, when a facility’s energy needs are not managed effectively, the resulting inefficiencies, while they may or may not have a direct impact on the comfort of occupants, can drive up the cost of healthcare and negatively impact the bottom line. A properly configured building automation system can minimize these risks.
Proper temperature controls and appropriate programming can significantly conserve energy, improve HVAC system performance, lower emissions and reduce overall operating costs, all while maintaining indoor air quality and comfort for both staff and patients.Building automation systems can be as simple or complex as you desire. The system can be set to simply heat and cool on demand or as complex as reacting to schedules and occupancy to automatically prompt the system to a set temperature and humidity level, turn the lights on and even manage access to different areas. Rooms and areas can be controlled individually. Think of the different areas of a healthcare facility and how diverse their needs are. Patient rooms, operating rooms, laboratories and kitchens all have very different needs and schedules.
Allowing each area of a hospital or clinic to be individually controlled for their respective purpose allows greater comfort for staff and patients. Building controls can automate all the important environmental aspects to ensure indoor air quality and the highest satisfaction rates of occupants as well as increase efficiency and save money.
Concerns for infectious disease control and bioterrorism are much greater today than in the past. Hospitals and clinics need to keep patients and staff safe and comfortable while providing the highest level of care. Building automation systems can be a factor in keeping staff, patients and visitors safe. With appropriate programming, rooms can be monitored for air quality as well as security. For example, isolation rooms can be managed to prevent the spread of infectious diseases by activating alarms to alert staff of improper and unsafe conditions.
The integration of security systems with building automation controls allows greater flexibility and increased safety throughout the facility. Let staff members take care of their number one job, the patients, and let the building controls monitor indoor air quality and security.
Today’s healthcare needs are very different than twenty, or even ten, years ago. Building automation systems have the ability to rapidly adjust to the changing needs of the healthcare industry today and tomorrow.
G & R Controls is a Siemens Independent Field Office specializing in building automation and energy management since 1977.