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A Side-by-Side Comparison of Ventilation Methods for Healthcare Facilities

  by Walt Vernon | September 19, 2018
  A number of years ago, working with Kaiser Permanente, Partners Healthcare and Providence Healthcare, Mazzetti led a multi-year, multi-university research project focused on the use of displacement ventilation for healthcare facilities. To date, only one hospital, Stanford’s Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital, has deployed the strategy on a wide basis.

Inexplicably (to us), the world seems more enameled with the notion of chilled beams as the “next new thing” for healthcare ventilation.

The truth, of course, is more nuanced. Neither system is black and white, better than the other. Both have advantages and offer opportunities, depending on climate and facility priorities.

Because we hear questions about these systems over and over, we have decided to create a summary that will outline some of the advantages of different systems, particularly in the context of more conventional constant volume and variable volume systems.

Here, I am at something of an advantage. I am, you see, only an electrical engineer. Because I am not so deeply steeped in the nuances of the various systems, particularly in the context of different climates, I was able to convene several groups of mechanical engineers to think about these systems and these features, and to synthesize their thinking into something that, admittedly, is “in the ballpark,” on average, rather than attempting to be precisely correct for any particular set of conditions.

I hope you find this helpful. If you see something wrong, it's probably because I am an electrical engineer, trying to synthesize a consensus of what a collection of mechanical engineers would agree to. To the degree that they are right, I owe it all to the brilliant people I am blessed to work with. Let me know if you have questions or suggestions, and we can work together to keep this updated, as a service to the industry.

Without further ado, here is our best thinking:

  Walt Vernon is CEO of Mazzetti and a member of the Health Care Institute Board of Directors.