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innovations

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through creative and
thoughtful applications
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test of time
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flexibility and low
operating costs
for the host facility.

 

Heat Spectrum Analysis™: What is it?
Since engineered mechanical and electrical systems have been designed into buildings, engineers have designed systems with an intuitive sense of the Heat Spectrum Analysis, but customarily without a disciplined approach. When a cooling or heating load is imposed, a corresponding cooling or heating capacity is designed into the building. Unfortunately, in today’s world, seldom is the interrelatedness of the uses and sources of heat a consideration during the building design process.

Similar, to financial analysis, which studies the sources and uses of money for an investment, Heat Spectrum Analysis studies the uses and sources of heat within a building. The goal of Heat Spectrum Analysis is to analyze the spectrum of heat required for smart building operation. To develop an analysis, the order of magnitude and timing of heat for each temperature band width necessary for smart building operation must be determined. Once the smart heat spectrum is understood, the optimum source equipment can be determined to satisfy the bandwidth. United Mechanical Consultants, Inc. actively pursues this approach on all projects in order to provide a better future for generations to come.

Click here to better understand the concept and to explore the possibilities.

Thermal Cogeneration™: Why not?
Mechanical systems generate heat to produce cooling and we often throw away the heat. We do that because that is what we have done for the last 100 years. The goal of Thermal Cogeneration is to put the discarded heat back to work.

We often hear of cogeneration projects that use a fuel source to generate both electricity and heat, but that type of project creates a utility business in the host facility and it is dependent upon supplemental reciprocating equipment or fuel cells. Most host facilities have no business becoming utility businesses, they just want to be a hospital, long term care facility, senior living center, medical office building or just about anything other than a utility company. Simple thermal cogeneration uses everyday equipment and changes how the equipment is used.

Through application of Heat Spectrum Analysis, our every day equipment can use its ordinary input to generate two useable temperature streams. Add a little creativity and you have an innovative solution that has been hiding right in front of us. United Mechanical Consultants, Inc. actively pursues this approach on all projects in order to provide a better future for generations to come.

Click here to better understand the concept and to explore the possibilities.

Near-Zero Emission Hospital™ and Zero Emission Hospital™:
No way?......Way!

Since the 1940’s, hospital mechanical systems have been designed the same way with very little innovation. Along the way, many events have occurred which have forced health care to change dramatically. Just a few of those events include the advent of Medicare, oil embargos, implementation of Diagnostic Related Groups and capitation of reimbursements, more energy shocks and debates on Global Warming. Consequently, the validity of using the same design philosophy for mechanical systems does not make sense.

Traditionally, hospital mechanical systems start with the need to satisfy the process steam requirements for sterilizers, which make up a relatively small element of the overall energy demand in the facility.  Since the decisions are typically made to satisfy the demand with a medium pressure steam boiler, then the decision to maximize the use of steam always seems to follow.

As a result of the decision to let the steam sterilizer demand determine the destiny of the mechanical system design, need for continuous personnel supervision in boiler plants is created.  However, patients are not in the boiler room, they are in the hospital, so why build in the need for personnel to be located away from the patients?

The goal of the Near-Zero Emission Hospital™ of the Zero Emission Hospital™ is to refocus on the hospital’s goal to care for patients rather than create utility plants with continuous supervision and high maintenance costs. Application of new ideas and Heat Spectrum Analysis™ can have a revolutionary impact on design, operation and emission reduction of hospitals. There is a way!

Click here to better understand the concept and to explore the possibilities.

Whole Hospital Heat Pump™: What in the world?
Hospitals are one of the largest energy consuming building types that exist. Energy is consumed, heat is generated, cooling is required and emissions are produced. Unwanted heat is rejected, exhaust systems discard conditioned air, steam, chilled and hot water systems distribute throughout the building without any interrelatedness. Economizing is either not done or it is short sited rather than conceived to last the life of the building.

The goal of the Whole Hospital Heat Pump™ is to re-think the sources and uses of heat. Re-think the response of mechanical systems to the patient care environment and refocus on the hospital’s goal to care for patients rather than create utility plants with continuous supervision and high maintenance costs. Application of new ideas and Heat Spectrum Analysis™ can have a revolutionary impact on design, operation and emission reduction of hospitals. There is a way!

Click here to better understand the concept and to explore the possibilities.

Should my hospital use 100% outside air or recirculated air? Absolutely Yes!
The debate about use of 100% outside air versus recirculating air has gone on for many years without clear consensus. The debate centers around the idea to provide the most healthful air to the patient care environment and minimize the risk of cross contamination between air streams. These goals are shared by both sides of the debate.

While some healthcare providers have chosen to dedicate themselves to 100% outside air systems, others are willing to recirculate air without reservation. So what are the real issues that should drive the decision?

The hospital’s mission is to provide quality care for the patient and a safe environment for both patients and staff. A part of achieving the objective is to remove air handling systems from the risk equation. Doing that is more easily said than done in most cases.
To assess the risk of air streams and air handling systems to the patient care environment, the source of risk must be considered.  A part of the consideration will be the patient population being served. As the acuity level and compromised immunity levels increase, the level attention to air handling systems must increase. Correspondingly, as outpatient care and specialty care environments increase, our hospitals are left with the sickest of the sick, which means the quality of air and how it is handled is increasingly important.

The primary threats to both patients and staff generated by air handling systems come from viral, bacterial or fungal aerosols.  The source of the aerosols must be understood to best analyze the threat. Outside air contains a heavy particulate burden and varying moisture content, which supports all three of the primary threats. Heavy particle burdens quickly foul filters and increase long-term maintenance cost. Uncontrolled moisture burdens wet all internal components of the air handling system and they can contribute to wetting of pre- and final filters. When moisture and dirt are combined, they will become microbial amplification sites wherever opportunity exists within the air handling system. Particle burdens are heavily laden with aspergillus fumigatus and other spores and bacteria that will become harmful to immune-compromised and aging populations. Additionally, other less harmful pathogens can create problems with healthier patients and staff.  Since hospital populations are becoming increasingly immune-compromised and older, the risk will also be increasing. 

Consequently, reduction of particle burden would be the logical first step to reduce risk.

It is clear that putting the same air stream through a filter multiple times will reduce the particle burden of that air stream each time it passes through the filter. Consequently, a recirculated air system will provide a cleaner indoor environment because of the multiple passes through the filter system. Additionally, a reduction of outside air into the air handling system will significantly reduce the particle burden seen by the filtration system. It is not uncommon to measure seven to 20 times more particles in the outside air stream than in the indoor air stream. Combining the incoming particle reduction with more cycles through the filters will have a substantial effect on particle count within the building.

The fear of entraining bacteria, virus or fungal spores in the return air stream and recontaminating the indoor air is not necessarily a valid fear since comparable threats can be introduced from outside air systems. In-room contamination will occur in both 100% outside air systems and re-circulated systems. The only functional method to control in-room contamination is through use of pressure gradients and air patterns to manage internal hazards. Controlled hazard areas would be exhausted, but most other areas could be returned with increasingly clean air streams. Of course, internally generated particle burdens will be the same in either a 100% outside air system or re-circulated air system.

The first line of humidity control in an air handling system is a return air system. A wide range of humidity conditions can occur in various geographic locations when the coincident dry bulb temperature is either relatively high or relatively low. Closing down the economizer cycle is the best way to preserve moisture that is already in the system or preventing additional unwanted moisture from entering the system. Consequently, humidifiers are not required in general patient areas and only local humidifiers are required in critical areas. Conversely, when low humidity conditions occur in 100% outside air systems, there is no alternative but to add humidifiers in all air handling systems. If humidifiers are not present, excessively dry air will lead to various skin conditions affecting both staff and patients.

If bio-terrorism or other external threats such as wildfires, chemical spills are of concern, shutting down an outside air system is not possible unless all ventilation and cooling is shut down. A return air system can continue to provide cooling to afford time until an external threat has passed or dissipated

Since most return systems are equipped with economizers, the system can operate as either a 100% outside air system or minimum outside air system. Since the cost of the installation is the same, it is our opinion that the advantages of a re-circulated air far outweigh the perceived advantages of a 100% outside air system.
Advantages include:

  • Increased patient and staff hygiene
  • Improved infection control
  • Lower cooling tonnage
  • Reduced humidification
  • Reduced heating input (for temperature and humidity control)
  • Lower total installed cost (including steam distribution for humidification)
United Mechanical Consultants, Inc. actively pursues this approach on all projects in order to provide a better future for generations to come. To better understand the concept and to explore outcomes, click here to explore the possibilities.

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