The healthcare sector has long been one of the UK’s largest capital construction sectors – nudging the £3bn mark at present. Much of this funding is aimed at providing new hospitals to meet our growing population and healthcare needs.
However, a significant proportion is benchmarked for improving the efficiency of current healthcare facilities, whilst delivering cost savings, enhanced productivity and energy efficiency.
Of the many key factors that influence decisions made when considering heating and cooling solutions for the development of new sites, or the improvement of existing ones, there are five that are absolutely critical.
These decisions will help healthcare facility managers satisfy industry regulations, best practice guidelines and the need to deliver a sustainable, lasting-value solution while delivering a comfortable, healthy environment for patients, staff and facility users.
- Reducing the risk of infection
- Ease of installation
In this overview of how our Radiant Heating and Cooling (RHC) ceiling panels can ensure healthcare managers meet these requirements, we will focus on each of these areas to reveal the benefits that they deliver.
In a recent Carbon Trust Report – Hospitals: healthy budgets through energy efficiency – it is noted that:
‘Energy consumption in hospitals is growing steadily. Electricity already accounts for over 50% of a hospital’s energy costs and consumption is set to increase. There are still many opportunities to achieve energy and cost savings just by implementing a few basic measures.’
The chart below details where the biggest savings can be made – and heating and cooling plays a massive part (just about two-thirds of the total).
Our RHC ceiling panels offer energy savings of up to 42% because they heat water to generate heat, which is more energy efficient and cost-effective than heating air.
Further savings are made thanks to the way that they only heat objects and occupants in a room, rather than the entire space of the room. This obviously reduces energy use further.
In fact, any cost savings that can be achieved in purchasing air-based systems are incredibly short-term. An RHC system’s sustainable level of performance, according to an ASHRAE study, offers 42% energy savings in the second and third year of operation, when compared to a variable air volume, or air-based systems.
RHC ceiling panels also have a very low inertia, making them very easy to adjust and much more energy efficient than high inertia systems, such as underfloor heating.
Maintenance of heating systems can be a significant contributor to ongoing costs as well.
Our panels have no moving parts, making their maintenance needs very low and just a cloth and mild detergent is needed to clean them. Compare this to underfloor heating which requires entire wards to be evacuated or closed for servicing, or to air-based systems whose high maintenance needs stem from the hygiene-risk of the build-up of dirt.
Reduced risk of infection
Which leads us straight into the second benefit of reducing the risk of infection.
Our panels can be supplied with an anti-bacterial coating, which prevents the growth of harmful bacteria such as E. coli and MRSA. This reduces the likelihood of infection and illness.
In addition, due to their placement on the ceiling, any risk of blood or other bodily fluids spilling on to the panels is removed. This helps prevent bacteria spreading at certain temperatures. The panels are also unaffected by floor cleaning, which impacts on underfloor heating solutions performance and longevity.
With no moving parts, RHC panels are simple and quick to install causing minimal disruption.
They are incredibly easy to clean – just a cloth and some mild detergent are all that is required. And, RHC systems contain very few serviceable parts – and those that do, offer a very long lifecycle and are fully recyclable at the end of their life.
RHC systems achieve an even distribution of heating and cooling and, importantly, they do so silently without the noise that other systems emit.
This reduces cold, or excessively warm, areas of wards and other areas. For instance, the cooling offered by fan coil units is extremely uncomfortable to anyone located in proximity to the unit – it can feel like standing in a cool draught.
Beyond issues of comfort, there is also safety as a consideration. Heating systems installed from the ceiling eliminate the risk of injuries or discomfort being caused when touched, or contact is made.
By providing both heating and cooling functions within one system, healthcare managers can deploy an energy efficient solution for both requirements – with neither needing additional servicing or alterations.
In addition, RHC ceiling panels can be easily adapted to meet changes in the structuring and organisation of the building’s space. They provide the required heat or cooling output according to the ‘active’ areas within a building, where more people are located for example. This means they are also perfectly suited to handling the heating and cooling of areas which are not always occupied, or which people pass temporarily through, such as corridors, reception areas or storage spaces. The panels will only direct heat where activity occurs, so costs associated with heating are not wasted in areas which are empty or only occasionally in use.
RHC ceiling panels and healthcare
Choosing our RHC ceiling panels will help healthcare managers to deliver a heating and cooling solution:
- That is energy efficient and cost-effective
- That delivers clear health and safety benefits
- That creates comfortable spaces throughout the healthcare setting
- That is easy to install and offers minimal maintenance requirements
- That can adapt to future uses of the building