The Best of Both Worlds: Optimizing Energy Spend While Reducing Infection Risk in Healthcare Environments

Tip #25

By Robbie Davis, Senior Product Manager, Digital Solutions at Johnson Controls

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare leaders are tasked with providing the gold standard of sanitary environments and clean air while delivering on their energy savings targets. The emergence of the Delta variant, limited resources, aging systems, deferred maintenance and data overload have challenged hospital operations teams as they strive to achieve competing business goals.

Digital Transformation and Sustainability

Fortunately, sustainability initiatives and digitalization programs go hand-in-hand. Healthcare organizations cannot implement zero-carbon goals for their facilities without discussing the digital technology that is essential to achieving building and operational efficiencies. The intended goals of sustainability and digitalization might differ upfront, but the means and actual outcomes are often the same.

Investing in emerging digital technologies can help provide guidance on day-to-day operational activities. Analytics and simulation solutions can help healthcare facilities operators weigh multiple scenarios to solve for a wide range of outcomes. These tools provide recommendations to operators to quickly decide to improve indoor air quality (IAQ), lower energy use, or find an equilibrium operating point. These solutions can also be packaged with existing building management systems (BMS) with minimal to no hardware upgrades by leveraging a blend of hardware and cloud packages.

Clean Air and Sustainability

Healthcare organizations are also expected to provide clean indoor air, as a key element of a healthy care environment. In order to best understand next steps and industry guidelines for IAQ, leaders should refer to recommendations from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). Specifically, two of its guidelines, “Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality” and “Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings,” provide context to the challenges of bolstering IAQ while reducing energy consumption.

These ASHRAE standards set expectations for IAQ, including outdoor air circulation, filtration and disinfection, but stipulate that the processes that generate the healthiest air are often also processes that consume the most energy. ASHRAE also highlights the benefits of IAQ for occupant health, comfort, and productivity, and in some cases even building usability, all of which can have significant economic impacts for building owners and occupants. In tandem, these standards, supported by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), help organizations better understand the most effective indoor air treatment processes to minimize energy use. This includes best practices for equipment efficiency levels, shutdown scenarios, reset strategies, and more.

As hospital operations teams build plans to enhance operations to meet ASHRAE Standards, consider these steps:
1.    Determine IAQ and energy efficiency goals
2.    Involve the correct stakeholders
3.    Determine what data to capture
4.    Decide how progress will be measured
5.    Outline and execute an action plan
6.     Assess progress and make changes as needed

To achieve building sustainability and meet energy management standards while creating healthy spaces for occupants, healthcare facilities will rely on cutting-edge technology to generate efficiency insights from real-time data. Integrating sustainability with digitalization will allow organizations to reach both sets of targets faster, while also creating healthier and more comfortable buildings.


About the Author

Robbie Davis HeadshotRobbie Davis, Senior Product Manager, Digital Solutions at Johnson Controls
Robbie Davis is responsible for creating Energy and Sustainability software solutions for Johnson Controls. In his role, primary responsibilities include customer success, prioritizing strategic roadmaps, and empowering the user experience through the OpenBlue Ecosystem. Robbie has more than 8 years of experience in the building industry and in energy management technologies.


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