Jeff Harris, Director of Mechanical Engineering, Hammel, Green and Abrahamson, Inc., Minneapolis
Studies have shown that the mechanical system is not only a major contributor to the comfort and satisfaction of a building's users, but also to the owner's bottom line in terms of operations and maintenance costs. Therefore, selecting the most appropriate mechanical system is crucial for health-care facility managers and a decision that should be based on an objective assessment of both system performance and financial criteria. Often, decisions about a mechanical system for a new facility on a health-care campus are based on facility managers' experience with a particular type of system and their assumptions about its appropriateness for the new facility. For example, they may initially expect to see a hospital-type mechanical system design that incorporates water-cooled chillers; high-pressure steam boilers with heat exchangers and the ability to distribute steam to the sterilizers; an emergency generator; and central domestic hot water storage.