Retrofits Improve Occupant Comfort, Infection Control in ORs
While the retrocommissioning project at the Maine Medical Center Research Institute focused on energy efficiency, creating a healthy indoor environment was the primary driver for another project implemented on the organization’s main campus.
Maine Medical Center in Portland features 20 operating rooms designed and constructed in the 1980s. As more advanced medical equipment and technology made their way into the operating rooms, the maintenance and engineering department had to account for equipment-generated heat and infection control.
“In those 20-year-old (operating-room) suites, we were trying to accommodate 20 years of an exponential growth in technology,” says Roger Boyington, Maine Medical Center’s director of engineering services.
The medical center started retrocommissioning the operating rooms in fall 2006 and finished implementing the retrofits in summer 2007. While the renovations did address occupant comfort, they also improved energy efficiency.
Boyington and his team spent a great deal of time calibrating controls related to the operating rooms’ HVAC system, and they monitored pressure and airflow relationships associated with infection control.
“I’m trying to take something that was designed at 70-72 degrees in 1982 and running it down around 68 degrees and accommodating all the growth and technology,” Boyington says of the HVAC system.
The department specified variable-speed drives, air blenders, and occupancy controls for the operating rooms. The department also worked closely with the operating-room staff, infection-control personnel, safety staff at the medical center, and general contractors to achieve its goals of creating a comfortable, healthy indoor environment.
“Everyone had to work together as a team in order to do that,” Boyington says. “This was pure comfort. It had nothing to do with energy.”