One of the sectors crucial to the functioning of modern society is the healthcare sector. Currently, this sector is facing a huge problem regarding inefficient planning and insufficient resources, and in this case, MEP is important.
Since MEP services sustain an adequate environment for human occupancy, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems, play an important role in the built environment. As there are recovering patients and many types of specialized equipment in the healthcare sector, so they bring additional challenges. MEP installations tend to be more expensive than in other buildings due to the additional requirements of healthcare facilities. Although the exact cost distribution varies by project, Mechanical, Engineering, and Plumbing systems will normally represent over 40% of the budget in healthcare buildings. However, experienced MEP engineers provided by MEP Building Services in Australia can find ways to cut costs without affecting performance.
An optimized layout is less expensive, like any building project, because the optimized layout uses fewer materials. However, Mechanical, Engineering, and Plumbing coordination for healthcare buildings brought up some new additional challenges, although there is medical equipment with specific requirements. Also, it is the responsibility of the building systems to create the best possible environment for patient recovery.
In the case of healthcare projects, the engineering team who are in charge of MEP design and coordination must have specialized knowledge in order to deliver the best possible results. Project owners can save valuable time and resources during construction simply by hiring professional engineers for the design stage.
The Role of HVAC Systems of MEP in Healthcare Buildings
The function of HVAC systems is to keep a comfortable temperature and humidity in most residential and commercial buildings while preserving indoor air quality. However, in healthcare, the role of HVAC is much more important:
- It is necessary to provide ventilation systems in healthcare buildings because it provides sufficient airflow for all areas of the facility and helps prevent the spread of infectious diseases.
- Some healthcare facilities have stringent humidity control requirements that are dependent on the climate zone and season of the year; that’s why dehumidification or humidification systems may be necessary.
- A part of the HVAC system is steam which is required in many healthcare applications, introducing an additional system to the MEP design and coordination process.
The points that are mentioned above are just some examples of additional MEP requirements for the healthcare sector. While optimizing project costs and improving energy efficiency, design engineers must meet all the specifications provided in building codes and client documentation.
Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning systems should also create a comfortable environment, which will cover different aspects such as temperature and humidity and noise and air speed. For example, when these HVAC systems produce air drafts and noise in a building, the room will be uncomfortable even at the ideal temperature and relative humidity, which is unacceptable in healthcare buildings, especially in inpatient rooms and surgery rooms.
Another aspect of comfort in MEP buildings is glare from lighting systems which is often overlooked, and this not only applies to health centers. Therefore, architects and engineers of MEP services should deliver a lighting design which does not cause visual discomfort for patients and health personnel, and it also comprises an adequate selection of lighting fixtures and also a layout which delivers uniform lighting without glare.
Emergency Power and Fire Protection in Healthcare Buildings
Emergency power systems and fire protection play a vital role in any building or construction project, but the healthcare sector brings additional challenges, just like with HVAC design. Usually, healthcare facilities have some occupants who cannot evacuate independently, which creates an additional challenge during emergencies. Therefore, the MEP systems should be as reliable as possible, which activates during an emergency.
There is zero tolerance for failure in MEP systems when it is dealing with fire protection systems. For example, a smoke alarm can be used to evacuate the building that does not activate may waste valuable minutes, and a sprinkler system that is not activated in the building may let a fire spread beyond control. However, the presence of patients and medical personnel must be considered by fire protection engineers in healthcare buildings.
- Sprinkler systems and other fire protection measures must be highly reliable without creating a hazard for patients.
- For example, critical surgeries cannot be paused, and any fire protection measures that are present must be designed to avoid disruptions.
Since many types of medical equipment run with electricity, having a reliable emergency power system can be critical in healthcare. A few seconds of electric power interruption in healthcare buildings can have severe consequences, basically when patients rely on life support equipment.
The Mechanical, Engineering, and Plumbing design and coordination stage greatly impact the entire life cycle. When the engineers use building systems, the buildings have an optimal layout, so their installation can be completed with minimal disruption. A high-performance MEP design in the project can also reduce maintenance costs and operations over time of the healthcare buildings. In any building design, these are valuable features, mainly in the healthcare sector, where the upfront investment and operating costs are very high.
The healthcare sector sometimes brings additional design challenges like many issues that only disrupt other buildings that can be life-threatening in a hospital. Thus those who are working with MEP engineers are experienced in healthcare buildings, and it is strongly recommended.
With proper planning and strategy in the construction work, MEP can be easy because an effective MEP design is a primary building block for efficiently planning, managing, and operating a facility. The engineers provide construction work with the help of MEP services that include a significant portion of the operational costs of most buildings, poorly operating equipment that can create dispensable costs for building owners and tenants, and substantial inefficiencies. A critical step in optimal property management is proactively addressing these inefficiencies by commissioning an MEP inspection of existing buildings or at the design stage.
The main role of the experts of an MEP company like GrassCAD is to ensure that all of the systems used in MEP that are mechanical, electrical, and plumbing are integrated efficiently and seamlessly into construction from the beginning.