In contrast to its location in one of the oldest cities in the United States, Emerson Hospital - part of Partner Health Care Organization - provides highly advanced medical services. More than 220,000 people in 25 towns surrounding Concord, MA, enjoy Emerson's longstanding health care expertise. Experts from both Emerson and Boston's Massachusetts General Hospital staff its highly sophisticated and renowned radiation-oncology program.

When Emerson began renovating its operating and patient rooms, it required an HVAC system that consolidated all the building controls, saved energy and costs, and kept patients comfortable. Alerton's Massachusetts dealer, Energy Management of New England (EMNE), had provided temperature controls inside Emerson for years and was the hospital's preferred choice for a major building controls retrofit.

Emerson Hospital needed centralized control of all the buildings’ HVAC systems, but some of the equipment was installed more than 50 years ago. Before implementing the new BAS, the local dealer and hospital engineers completed a detailed survey of each section and compiled a systems database that helps them strategize about how new equipment will most efficiently interoperate with the old.

Quick, Precise Adjustments

Emerson Hospital's greatest need was centralized control of all the buildings' systems. One main difficulty in updating the existing HVAC systems was that some of the equipment was built more than 50 years ago. Numerous additions to the building were designed according to then-in-trend criteria. This resulted in a cluster of various systems types, making it a particular challenge to ensure interoperability between the new and old systems.

Each section of the hospital - including operating suites, emergency rooms, patient rooms, radiation-oncology, and infectious areas - requires a different environment. In response, the upgraded building controls system had to include the ability to monitor controls and make quick, precise adjustments to temperature and humidity as needed.

EMNE installed an Alerton IBEX™ system that controls, manages, and monitors all of the hospital's building systems. The Emerson Hospital project includes heating water and chilled water plants, an air distribution system, unitary systems, cooling towers, AHUs, VAV boxes, fancoils, and exhaust fans. Operator workstations - distributed over the hospital's Ethernet local area network (LAN) - run Alerton Envision™ for IBEX software to manage all the building's functions.

"Out of all the different building automation systems I've seen in my career, this one is a cutting-edge technology, extremely friendly to use and provides many benefits for the daily operations of our hospital," said Tim Savoie, maintenance supervisor at Emerson Hospital.

And The Survey Says...

Before implementing the Alerton system, EMNE and hospital engineers completed a detailed survey of each section and compiled a systems database that helped them strategize how new equipment will most efficiently interoperate with the old. EMNE also conducted a comprehensive energy analysis of all Emerson utilities. Based on the hospital's greatest need and a quick return on investment, engineers recommended which systems to upgrade first and how to improve the operation of existing systems.

"The system's reporting and monitoring capabilities allow us to meet the requirements from the Designated Provider Network and the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations," Savoie said.

EMNE automated a switchover each winter from two working chillers to one. In colder months, the hospital requires only one operating chiller because outside temperatures are significantly lower and the incoming air needs less cooling. This change reaps considerable energy cost savings for the hospital.

Envision for IBEX enables the facilities staff to respond specifically to the particular needs of each environment. Temperature and humidity in recovery rooms are closely monitored to keep patients comfortable while pressurization differentials on infectious floors thwart airborne pollutants. With centralized access to all HVAC system components and customizable graphics interface screens, hospital maintenance staff can quickly view and adjust these setpoints from their offices.

Around-the-clock (24/7) alarming and broadcasting of critical events to workstations and pagers allows quick responses to unscheduled changes within the HVAC system. The flexibility of the IBEX system supports the many alarms required by Emerson staff to accurately maintain the system, especially in the radiation-oncology areas. For example, if water temperatures in a linear accelerator stray from the pre-determined setpoints, crucial alarms immediately notify the facilities manager. Once alerted, he can correct the problem and keep the accelerator operational for patients undergoing treatments.

DDC replaced the hospital's existing pneumatic system, which consumed numerous maintenance hours and required frequent calibration. Since pneumatics must be adjusted by hand, upgrading to DDC and tying into the centralized control system translates directly into maintenance cost savings.

By leveraging the old equipment and making it interoperate with the new Alerton equipment, Emerson enjoys a cost effective building solution. The new controls are easy to use, extensible, and more effective. Their energy efficient operation keeps patients comfortable while still generating significant savings for the hospital. "Since we installed the system, we have been able to greatly improve the comfort of our patients," Savoie said.ES