KCF Technologies Blog

What is Your Facility's "IAQ"?

Inside an AHU.
Laura Rygielski Preston is vice president of the Global Healthcare Practice for Ingersoll Rand, including Trane, now celebrating its first century of helping improve lives around the world through innovative heating and air conditioning systems, services, and solutions.

In the May 2006 issue of Health and Facilities Management, she authored, "Clean Air Acts," her take on, "Designing, installing, and maintaining HVAC systems with air quality in mind."  As Preston notes, "a hospital's indoor air quality (IAQ) is a significant consideration when trying to ensure a healthy, safe, and comfortable environment.  Good IAQ is particularly important in sensitive areas of hospitals, such as intensive care units and surgical suits, because of the growing challenge of protecting patients against hospital-acquired infections."

Humidity and temperature are key concerns when assessing IAQ.  Meticulous planning and communication, "must occur during the design and installation stages of hospital HVAC systems as well as in the preparation of a maintenance regimen that will be used after the HVAC installation is finally completed."

After rigorous design and construction practices create a health care facility--or any other large public buildings, such as offices, schools, or libraries--"a predictive maintenance program can help facilities managers mitigate moisture problems, enhance IAQ, and avoid facility disruptions....Proper maintenance can also reduce operating costs by incorporating energy-efficient technologies.  In fact, the Department of Energy's Building Technologies Program suggests that a maintenance program can reduce energy costs by five to 20 percent in existing health care facilities without significant capital investment."

"With predictive maintenance programs, facilities managers and maintenance personnel can optimize HVAC system performance and maximize the facility life cycle."Crucial to making this work for all parties, as Preston enumerates, are design, budgeting, education, communication, and smart staffing.

For best success, architects, engineers, contractors, HVAC solutions providers, facility administrators, and infection control or risk management professionals must commit to not only the equipment and design that create a healthy hospital, but also to the maintenance regimen that will assure its continuation.  "When such collaboration is successfully employed," Preston concludes, "the end result will be an integrated, reliable and efficient HVAC solution that provides optimized facility investments, increased comfort levels for staff and patients, and improved patient outcomes.

Photo by Christopher Shannon/KCF Technologies.  All rights reserved.

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