Prescription for building automation and controls in hospital, health care facilities
Hospital and health care facility projects are especially important due to their sensitive nature. Engineers chime in on building automation systems (BAS), building management systems (BMS), and controls.
Michael Chow, PE, CxA, LEED AP BD+C, Member/Owner, Metro CD Engineering LLC, Powell, Ohio
George Isherwood, PE, Vice President, Peter Basso Associates, Troy, Mich.
Michael Lentz, Associate, RMF Engineering, Baltimore
CSE: What factors do you need to take into account when designing building automation systems (BAS) for hospitals and health care facilities
Lentz: All major building equipment needs to be tied into the BAS and alarmed for malfunctions. This is due to the critical nature of the systems to function 24/7 and also due to most health care facilities reducing maintenance staff. Emergency power for the automated control system and local panels also needs to be accomplished. Again, due to the critical nature of the systems to function 24/7, the systems cannot shut down, and if the controls are not on emergency when power is lost, the units will not automatically restart after the 10-second delay.
Isherwood: Ease of service and the ability to understand the systems is crucial. Building controls are becoming more complex and maintenance staffs are being asked to do more with fewer resources. We need to make sure we design building control systems that will not become a burden on the staff, but a benefit.
CSE: How does implementing BAS in an existing building differ from designing controls for a new building?
Isherwood: There are a significant number of small hospital systems that have been using the same BAS for years. Some of these networks will no longer be supported by basic operating computer systems, let alone the BAS system. Also, different manufacturers have opened different control protocols for tying into a BACnet or similar common language. These challenges are huge for small hospitals, from both a solution and a cost standpoint.