For centuries hospitals were designed to encourage air movement through large open windows and cross ventilation. Patients were encouraged to take in as much fresh air as possible as part of the healing process. However, since the advent of mechanical systems, few hospitals provide natural ventilation and view the advances in air filtering and temperature control as more advantageous. Reasons such as reducing infection from contaminated outside air and providing constant thermal comfort continue to drive healthcare institutions to rely on mechanical systems. This decision contributes to hospitals as one of the most energy intensive building types.
Today providing natural ventilation in hospitals is staged for a comeback. With the rise in energy costs and awareness of environmental conservation, hospitals are looking for ways to reduce energy consumption. Hospitals in Europe have been able to function on much less energy due, in part, to reliance on an expanded temperature range and natural ventilation for their facilities. In the United States resiliency planning has caused some to reconsider providing operable windows in healthcare environments. Since Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, the idea of only fixed windows has come under scrutiny. Resiliency planning has become a new design driver for healthcare buildings. Now, operable windows are seen as a back-up system in case of mechanical system failure.
Given these emerging trends, Payette is conducting a research study on natural ventilation in healthcare spaces. We aim to design better spaces for healing that are not only energy efficient and functional during disasters, but also provide every patient with increased access to the natural environment. Our goal is to better understand the current perception of naturally ventilated healthcare spaces through the eyes of those involved in the design of a facility. Currently, as part of our study we have created a survey that will engage clients, administrators, facility managers, care providers, engineers and designers. Through this survey we desire to foster an open understanding of the current attitude toward natural ventilation and find ways to overcome the reasons it is so often unavailable.
If you are involved with the design of healthcare facilities, please help aid our research by participating in our survey. Thank you!
Fresh Start: Natural Ventilation in Healthcare
Take the Natural Ventilation in Healthcare survey