Exploring the need for efficient cooling and heating systems within hospitals
From staff comfort to patient care, the right temperature, humidity, and air quality are essential to ensuring comfortable and healthy conditions during the day and at night.
“Hospitals and healthcare facilities should strive to have the best, most-efficient, and sustainable cooling and heating systems,” says Dave Palmer, general manager at ICS Cool Energy.
“What is important for facility managers is to ensure this while also achieving the best efficiencies and maximising the potential of their buildings.”
Innovation in heating and cooling over recent years enables hospitals to choose from a wide variety of products and solutions, including large chillers for building temperature control; close temperature control chillers for medical equipment and hospital server rooms; as well as a fleet of electric, diesel, and gas-fired hire boilers for emergency hot water provision and additional capacity needs.
If disaster strikes and a temperature control system fails, being able to rely on a pre-arranged contingency plan for both cooling and heating systems can mean the difference between hours and weeks of downtime
“The best way for facilities managers to navigate successfully among all the options the market has to offer is to partner and work with industry experts that can bring in extensive experience specifically in the healthcare sector,” said Palmer.
“Such a partner should be able to provide them with meaningful advice and offer a full spectrum of services and solutions, from the cooling and heating systems’ design and equipment through both short and long-term turnkey hire solutions – all bundled together through support by an in-house team of technical applications experts.”
In all cases, whether it’s establishing contingency plans or discussing replacement strategies for ageing equipment, facilities managers should be aware of the innovation and existing technologies that can help them meet their temperature control requirements.
Waste not, want not
“Repurposing energy by integrating cooling and heating systems is an opportunity often overlooked by hospitals,” said Palmer.
“Hospitals require all-year-round cooling to keep vital IT equipment such as MRI scanners running or to maintain the right temperature and humidity levels in cold storage for multiple purposes.
“If we equip the building with a heat recovery chiller, it will generate hot water as a by-product of the chilled water system.
“The system can provide heating when there is a demand, while using, or when not simultaneously required, storing the cooling energy through use of ice banks. This helps connect the heating and cooling demands within a 24-hour span.”
The best way for facilities managers to navigate successfully among all the options the market has to offer is to partner and work with industry experts
Modern installations can reduce or eliminate the need to run boilers by using heat pump technology that can produce hot water up to 80°C at a fraction of the cost – and when cooling is required at the same time – even for free.
When emergency strikes
“It goes without saying that there are a significant number of critical healthcare applications that rely on precise temperature control, and any failure or disruption has consequences for the comfort and wellbeing of patients and staff,” warns Palmer.
“If disaster strikes and a temperature control system fails, being able to rely on a pre-arranged contingency plan for both cooling and heating systems can mean the difference between hours and weeks of downtime.
“The right expert partner can help evaluate the heating and cooling systems to identify potential sources of failure; develop a blueprint to show where the equipment goes and how to get it there; and have temporary equipment just a phone call away, 24/7.”
Temporary heating needs
As temperatures fluctuate with the change of seasons, so do the demands on healthcare facilities.
For supplemental heat in the autumn or winter months, temporary, hire equipment is the most-cost-effective solution.
Palmer explains: “Additional temporary healthcare structures may also be needed during extension works or unexpected events caused by fire, system failure, or a pandemic.
“A hire unit is also the ideal back-up for a broken or low-performing unit, without any long-term engagement.
“With a hire option, facility managers can buy time and peace of mind while delivering the heating they need to keep the healthcare operations running.”
An example of the impact new technology can have can be found at one of BMI Healthcare’s private hospitals.
When a calorifier, which was providing essential hygienic hot water, failed, on-site engineers were unable to rectify the problem, leaving wards with no hot water.
Prior to the breakdown, the hospital group had asked ICS Cool Energy to prepare a contingency plan to cover all its temperature control equipment.
And this plan meant the right equipment was on stand-by and enabled the ICS Cool Energy hire team to resolve the potentially-critical situation within hours.
Steve Buchan, group chief engineer at BMI Healthcare, said: “Healthcare is a demanding environment and reliable temperature control is life-critical.
“There are no compromises when it comes to hygienic heating and cooling and that’s why we choose to work with ICS Cool Energy.
“We rely on them across our estate and this latest emergency response is another example of a supplier that really does go the extra mile.”