Building Services Engineering for Healthcare
Working with the healthcare industry to engineer environments that promote healing and wellbeing.
Building services are crucial to the optimum performance of healthcare establishments and amount to approximately 40% of the construction cost for a typical building. We have over 20 years’ experience in buildings services engineering (Mechanical, Electrical & Plumbing) for healthcare facilities and we have designed some of the most complex healthcare systems in the world. In addition to the building systems required for day-to-day operation such as heating, ventilation and air conditioning, water and drainage, lighting, and power, complex healthcare facilities also require specialist systems in area like gas distribution, humidity and infection control. We help you provide the best indoor atmosphere to maximise comfort for patients and staff.
Working Together for Efficient Infection Control
One of the greatest challenges facing hospitals is to protect patients from the risk of infection while controlling costs and energy usage. In the USA, we have worked with infection risk managers and medical professionals and we have determined that this can be best achieved by reducing the number of air changes required in an operating room, which lowers costs and energy consumption without compromising the infection control. Similarly we have learned that the very low room temperatures that were considered necessary for operating theatres to reduce infection and slow blood clotting can safely be raised, again with consequent energy and cost savings. Our efficient infection control provisions design at Ng Teng Fong Hospital and Jurong Community Hospital in Singapore involved co-locating units with isolation facilities such as the emergency department’s isolation room with related facilities such as operating theatres, intensive care units and hospital wards.
Providing the Right Level of Resilience
Resilience is another key issue for healthcare. There can be no downtime when lives depend on the constant functioning of essential systems. Our building services engineering designs for the new cancer care facility at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg Sweden incorporate a back-up power system. One part of the building can support the other if required, and a rotating uninterruptible power supply (UPS) system gives the facility a critical power supply in the initial moments of a power cut while the diesel generator kicks in.
We also work with healthcare owners and operators to determine the correct level of resilience required depending on the building’s individual circumstances. Early conversations can avoid unnecessary expenditure on over-specification of resilience systems. For example, a hospital in the warm, inland climate of Phoenix Arizona does not need the same level of resilience as a hospital in New York City, where there is a higher demand on the power grid and the risk of serious climatic events.
Design for the Live Environment
Systems operation and maintenance in the live environment is also an important consideration that must be discussed in the early design stages, since operating and maintaining the complex technology required to provide the most efficient, high-performing buildings may be beyond the skills of a facility’s maintenance engineers. Particularly in the developing world, we advise clients in their selection of the optimum healthcare model. A simpler but robust solution may be preferable to a high-technology facility which cannot be maintained in the future due to lack of skills or finance.
Prototyping to Achieve Best Performance
We have a tradition of consulting closely with doctors, nursing staff, and other healthcare professionals as well as with patients to ensure we never lose sight of the ultimate goal of delivering the best clinical care. We develop 3D computer models to allow visualisation of our solutions, and at Akron Children’s Hospital in Ohio, USA, we took advantage of full-size mock-ups of various departments to simulate real conditions, learning from the input of hospital staff in order to develop the most efficient design for optimum performance.
Proactive Partnership Brings Best Return on Investment
Every dollar saved on a construction budget equates to approximately $20 of saved revenue for the hospital. In all projects, we advocate earliest-stage involvement of client, design teams, contractors, and end-user groups in proactive partnerships in which all stakeholders understand and share in achieving the goals for the project and thus ensuring best return on investment. From the earliest design stages, we worked with the owners of Dell Children’s Medical Center in Austin, Texas, to support their ambition of making this the first hospital to achieve Platinum-Level LEED accreditation. At the same time, we saved them millions in capital outlay by outsourcing power, heating and energy. Communication and collaboration are at the heart of every successful healthcare project and the key to engineering environments that promote healing and wellbeing while helping to ease the pressure of stretched financial resources in the delivery of efficient buildings.