Posted on May 25, 2023
Hospitals and healthcare providers with large facilities attract a lot of attention for stunning architecture and building design, leading-edge sustainable building codes, and often tout improved patient outcomes and lower maintenance costs as part of their building projects.
But smaller healthcare facilities, like ambulatory surgical centers and specialists with specialized equipment in neuroscience, cardiovascular health, and pediatrics, can benefit, too. Reduced maintenance costs and improved patient outcomes with smart mechanical and electrical design are all possible.
Healthcare facilities, building systems, and energy efficiency come together for patient wellbeing
Experienced MEP engineers know energy efficiency are key design considerations. Healthcare buildings must consider:
- Ways to maintain electrical power quality and supply.
- Departmental requirements, such as temperature regulation in labs or humidity control in patient rooms.
- Constraints in project design due to project budgets, federal reimbursements, and public funding sources
- Construction process efficiency to reduce the overall construction period
- Long-term operating costs
- Indoor air quality for patients and staff—something that is plainly obvious to everyone after the COVID-19 pandemic
- And how life support systems interact with various building systems, such as oxygen flow and fire suppression systems
R.E. Dimond and Associates have worked with healthcare facilities through “patient safety MEP services”. We recognized effective MEP design for existing healthcare facilities and new healthcare construction required meeting or setting new benchmarks.
Protecting patients and staff starts in the basement
Every project needs efficient ventilation, air conditioning and heating, water and drainage, stormwater drainage, lighting and power. But healthcare facilities add in the need for infection control, resilience, performance, comfortable spaces with low environmental impact, and strong investment returns.
Quality infection control starts with quality MEP systems
UV lights, quick air changes, and sanitation were on everyone’s mind during COVID-19. But healthcare projects always needed and had many of those measures in place.
Increasingly, new project designs for a planned healthcare facility must include ways to safely increase temperatures in operating rooms, ways of co-locating units and beds while still maintaining isolation in air and water flow, and increasing human occupancy without reducing patient safety. Much of this is focused on patient recovery, but also recognizing hospitals are businesses with important consideration to maximizing income, too.
Improving resilience in the built environment
We frequently work closely with private businesses to build networks and building systems that meet their needs. For instance, Sweetwater needed warehousing with stringent requirements on humidity and temperature controls to protect their wooden musical products, a network that “never fails”, and an uninterrupted power supply.
Healthcare buildings can benefit from many of the same measures. A ring network can provide ways to access alternative ISPs in the event of a direct denial of service attack and help offload network traffic in the event of a ransomware attack. And renewable energy sources like geothermal heat, wind, and solar can cut costs on energy bills while ensuring the mechanical and electrical design maintains a supply of power during storms or power failures.
Improving staff performance
If staff need to save valuable time and energy moving themselves or medical equipment from one space to another, the built environment should accommodate that. Retrofits can be challenging, but new building projects must use the design stage to listen to staff.
For instance, dialysis equipment can be cumbersome to navigate through hospital wards and doors and consume significant space when set up near patients. Our MEP consultants spend considerable time talking with project owners not just about how to design spaces for optimum performance but also to know how real-world interaction—like reaching overhead for an oxygen supply or plugging in the machine—will work.
Strong returns on investment
All healthcare facilities, regardless of size, want to maximize profit and save money. Federal funding options allow the healthcare industry to build new facilities and achieve reimbursement rates up to 30% higher from Medicare and Medicaid. But the MEP design can account for similar ROI.
MEP systems often account for 20-40% of a hospital’s construction costs, depending on project scope. Early involvement with our MEP engineers can help meet standards set by the Health Technical Memorandum, ASHRAE, LEED, and WELL. R.E. Dimond and Associates is the only MEP consulting engineering firm in the state of Indiana with a WELL-certified engineer on staff.
This wisdom and experience allow us to focus on air, water, and plumbing systems, as well as the comfort, lighting, and the fitness, nourishment, and minds of patients.
Let’s talk more about MEP design for the healthcare sector
Start hiring professional engineers for your next healthcare project. An MEP engineering consultant can help your facility integrate new design codes, building services, and save energy within a realistic budget.