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The Crucial Role of Ventilation in Healthcare Facilities

Ensuring healthcare facilities are properly ventilated is the key to maintaining a safe and healthy environment for both patients and healthcare workers.

With HVAC design and installation, there are many factors to consider. Although room terminal selection plays a significant role in the overall effectiveness and performance of HVAC systems, it is one aspect that can often be overlooked.

In this blog, we will look at the updated HTM-03 (Health Technical Memorandum 03) guidelines, and what needs to be considered when it comes to selecting room terminals within healthcare settings.

The guidelines provided in HTM-03 serve as an essential framework for establishing the ventilation standards that work to reduce the spread of airborne viruses and bacteria within healthcare environments.

These standards, which encompass various factors such as air exchange rates, filtration systems, and airflow patterns look to minimise the risk of cross-contamination and airborne infections.

Evolving Ventilation Practices

Recent updates to the HTM-03 guidelines, especially in the post-COVID-19 era of 2021, have been focused on changes that improve the effectiveness of ventilation systems within healthcare facilities.

One key development is the implementation of a standardised approach to identifying and labelling ventilation systems, which looks to enable healthcare facilities to better evaluate the performance of their ventilation and identify areas for improvement.

Additionally, updated guidelines for system lifecycle management and refurbishments have been introduced to ensure that ventilation systems remain efficient and compliant with the regulatory standards that evolve over time.

Adopting Sustainable Solutions

By acknowledging the need for sustainable practices across all sectors, healthcare facilities are under growing pressure to prioritise environmentally friendly solutions, such as their ventilation systems. This shift towards sustainability is not only driven by ethical considerations, but also by legislation that aims to tackle climate change. Across the world, we have seen governments set targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, with many countries working towards net-zero emissions by 2050.

With this in mind, "low carbon" ventilation practices have become an essential strategy for healthcare facilities to contribute towards these sustainability goals. For example, airflow rates have been more tailored to applications that take advantage of new fan and control technology that works to reduce energy consumption. For healthcare providers looking to improve both the performance of their ventilation system and the indoor air quality of their facilities, one focus could be minimising air leakage by integrating solutions such as spigot gasket seals.

Improving Hygiene and Efficiency 

When it comes to the maintenance of ventilation systems, attention to detail at the air terminal level is very important. While seemingly small, these adjustments ensure optimal performance and air quality within healthcare facilities. For example, there is a requirement to regularly clean extract grilles to remove dust and debris as the extract air systems handle unfiltered air. HTM-03 now states ‘’extract terminals should be of an easy-to clean design’’, which moves facility designers away from the longstanding egg crate grille and towards a more modern, clinical solution with a removable and wipeable face.

Interestingly the maintenance routine for supply terminals differs significantly as supply air distribution ductwork conveys filtered air. Neglecting to clean supply terminals acts as a marker to indicate failure of the filtration or its housing. This underscores the crucial importance of visually distinct supply and extract air terminal types, enabling easy system identification for maintenance protocols.

With the above points in mind, it is clear that the recent updates to HTM-03 reflect a focus on cleanliness and sustainability, which we see as a positive shift in creating safer, more environmentally conscious healthcare environments.