Software greens hospital operating rooms by reducing energy use

Building automation technology giant Johnson Controls is testing a new software application that hospitals could use to better control the energy consumption of operating rooms when they are not in use.The application is called Healthcare Environment Optimization, and John Controls figures that using it could save hospitals up to $10,000 in annual costs related to air exchange rates and energy consumption per operating room.

Building automation technology giant Johnson Controls is testing a new software application that hospitals could use to better control the energy consumption of operating rooms when they are not in use.

The application is called Healthcare Environment Optimization, and John Controls figures that using it could save hospitals up to $10,000 in annual costs related to air exchange rates and energy consumption per operating room.

The software specifically controls an OR's heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems, which are critical for removing airborne contaminants during surgery. But when a room is unoccupied, why should those systems be cranked on high? Healthcare Environment Optimization enables there to be two settings for each room: surgery or setback.

One of the beta sites for the software, Union Hospital in Terre Haute, Ind., is integrating the software to manage its suite of 10 operating rooms. The scheduling module will plug into the hospital's existing Metasys building management system.

Noted Dave Snapp, Union Hospital facilities director:

"We are the largest provider of health services between Indianapolis and St. Louis and in order to continuously improve and expand our services, we must strive for the most efficient operations at all levels. The surgical environment is especially sensitive and corners can never be cut. Through Healthcare Environment Optimization, we expect to reduce our energy use and operational costs, but more importantly, we plan to do so while maintaining an uncompromising surgical environment for our patients and clinical staff."

Johnson Controls developed the application in conjunction with consulting and engineering firm HDR. It could be used by hospital as one means of earning credit toward a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification under the U.S. Green Building Council guidelines. Features of the software include:

  • Tracking of air exchange rates and temperatures
  • A display that lets surgical or facility staff manually override settings
  • Alarms that alert room occupants to system issues

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