Flexibility Key to School Design

Without knowing where the schools/community centers would be built, KKE Architects developed a flexible design that could fit various sites. This allowed the New Prague Independent School District to begin the building design process while locating sites

 

The New Prague Independent School District asked KKE Architects to design a combination elementary school/community center without the benefit of using the project’s site as a reference. KKE created a flexible design that could be flipped north to south or east to west, as needed.

Growing enrollment is an issue facing many school districts throughout the nation. In Minnesota, the New Prague Independent School District knew that new schools were necessary, but sites had yet to be found. To avoid delaying construction for the needed school/community centers, the school district decided to ask KKE Architects, Minneapolis, to create a flexible design that could be adapted to the sites once they were secured. The school district encompasses the growing Minnesota cities of New Prague, New Market, and Lonsdale.

Because these schools would need to serve both as elementary education buildings for its 700 students and as community buildings, KKE’s Education Team worked closely with the school district and a citizens’ group to formulate the project. Because school sites had not yet been identified, KKE proposed that the schools have an identical design-a small footprint and a floor plan that could be flipped north to south or east to west, depending on the accessibility of the sites.

With these parameters in mind, KKE designed Raven Stream Elementary School for New Prague and Eagle View Elementary School for New Market. Each school is two stories high and approximately 90,000-sq.-ft., with New Market’s having a small addition for an early childhood- family education wing. Amcon Construction, Eagan, MN, is managing the combined projects’ $36-million construction.

Groundbreaking for Raven Stream Elementary School took place in July 2005. With site development work finished in early Fall, the school’s athletic fields were sodded, ensuring playability by the anticipated opening in September 2006. Eagle View Elementary School broke ground in October 2005 and completion is also expected by this Autumn.

“This is truly a significant step toward dealing with our crowding issues,” said Dr. Frankie Poplau, New Prague Area Schools Superintendent. “It’s a testament to the residents of the District, who stepped forward to say they want to be an education community.”

“From our first open forums, the community’s input and the New Prague District’s vision have truly shaped the design and construction of these new facilities. The collaborative process has been a rewarding experience for our whole department. We expect the resulting success will serve the District well into its future,” said Lee Meyer, AIA, with KKE’s Education Team.…

View More

Help Your Office Building Compete

An efficient fenestration system appeals to tenants and saves on operating costs.

Help Your Office Building Compete

Energy-efficient fenestration in an office building attracts satisfied tenants.

 

Rich Walker, American Architectural Manufacturer

 

As the construction deep-freeze thaws, as it eventually will, the competitive environment will make it more important than ever for new or remodeled commercial buildings to attract investors and prospective tenants. Determining the optimum combination of building performance and functionality to achieve such appeal depends heavily upon the building’s fenestration system, which involves careful attention to a number of design considerations. Many of these are of greater concern and consequence for commercial projects than for residential applications.

Green credentials

Today, green credentials demonstrably move projects to the top of the desirability pecking order. The 2008 Green Building Survey, conducted by National Real Estate Investor, New York, states that corporate respondents are willing to pay an average of 4% more for LEED-certified buildings; developer respondents say they can charge an average of 3% higher rents for green properties. This fact is not lost on developers and owners. According to New York-based Turner Construction Co.’s Green Building Barometer, 75% of commercial real estate developers, rental building owners, brokers, and others say the credit crunch will not discourage them from building green. A full 84% of respondents said their green buildings have resulted in lower energy costs, with 68% reporting lower overall operating costs.

For these reasons, green building is one of the growing bright spots for the U.S. economy. Verifying the trend, New York-based McGraw-Hill Construction’s Green Outlook 2009 report states that the value of green building construction starts increased five-fold from 2005 to 2008 and could triple by 2013.

For fenestration products, green building encompasses a variety of design considerations. Energy efficiency is the key element, together with beneficial daylighting to supplant electric lighting, and an emphasis on products with minimal environmental impact throughout their lifecycles.

The building’s location determines outdoor design temperatures (winter lows and summer highs), which dictate the windows’ required level of heat-transfer coefficient (measured by U-value), as well as solar heat gain (measured by the solar heat gain coefficient, or SHGC). Because energy use in commercial buildings is typically dominated by cooling loads, a lower SHGC is often desirable. However, buildings in northern climes can benefit from higher SHGCs as a means to offset thermal transmittance losses. These values are optimized as needed by the use of insulating glass units (IGU) with inert gas infill, and warm edge spacers separating the inner and outer lites (panes), framing with inherent or engineered integral thermal barriers, and glass with special coatings such as reflective glazing or high-performance low-e coatings.

AAMA (American Architectural Manufacturers Association, Schaumburg, IL) is developing a point-system-based green certification program for scoring the green credentials of window and door products. The program is intended to help designers and specifiers select products that will maximally contribute to whole-building green rating systems such as the LEED program, and the Green Globes assessment and rating system for commercial buildings.

Structural considerations

Windows must meet certain basic requirements for structural performance. The International Building Code (IBC) requires that windows meet the performance requirements of AAMA/WDMA/CSA 101/I.S.2/A440-08, NAFS-North American Fenestration Standard/Specification for Windows, Doors, and Skylights or a referenced predecessor. These standards define minimum structural performance requirements, as well as the window’s ability to resist air infiltration and water penetration due to wind-driven rain. For a product to gain entry to one of these performance classes, it must be tested to withstand progressively higher minimum design pressures derived from the maximum wind velocity likely to be experienced at a given geographical location. Several different performance classes are defined by their minimum design pressure, water penetration resistance, and air-leakage resistance requirements and identified according to their typical application: R, LC, CW, and AW. Windows for most office buildings, particularly multi-story ones, are likely to fall within the CW or AW classes.

Sound control

Studies indicate that office productivity increases when intrusive racket-from traffic, airplanes, mass transit systems, and other outside noise-is reduced. For noisy urban environments, products identified as acoustic windows should be chosen and tested for sound-transmission loss, and assigned a sound-transmission class (STC) and an outdoor-indoor transmission …

View More

Keeping Clean In Healthcare Facilities

When specifying plumbing products, seek a balance between cleanliness, design, and water conservation.

 

Ken Martin, Delta Faucet Co.

 

In any commercial building, promoting cleanliness and proper hygiene through effective handwashing is important. It is crucial in hospitals, extended-care facilities, and other healthcare buildings frequented by patients with compromised immune systems.

In patient rooms, faucets and sinks should be specified to work together to allow proper hygiene. The faucet spout should have a higher, farther reach, placing the water stream in an easier-to-reach location for the users.

This makes the job of specifying faucets and other plumbing products for public restrooms, patient rooms, and other areas an important one. Indeed, specifiers have much to consider when choosing faucets, fixtures, and other products for restrooms or patient rooms. The trend toward warmer, more inviting interiors has increased the demand for faucets with a more residential look, as opposed to an institutional or commercial design. In addition, water conservation has become increasingly important.

Even so, hygiene and proper handwashing devices are of paramount importance in healthcare-facility design and construction.

There are several things a specifier and a building owner should know to promote and maintain cleanliness. In addition to adopting vigorous cleaning schedules, one of the best ways to promote cleanliness is to reduce the need for people to touch surfaces. Automatic doors and light switches not only make life easier, but also limit the need to touch them, helping keep facilities cleaner.

In public restrooms used by visitors, staff, and patients, this may be accomplished by using products with hands-free technology. A variety of touchless flush valves, faucets, soap and towel dispensers, and hand driers has been on the market for some time. These products are quite effective at promoting cleanliness, as they greatly reduce the need for users to touch any surface in the restroom. However, hands-free technology has evolved over the years, resulting in products that work better and help promote proper hygiene.

The first hands-free faucets contained infrared, intensity-based sensing technology, which measured the intensity of light reflected from a user’s hands or body. A problem with this technology, when integrated within a hand-washing station, is that it tends to operate inconsistently. The sensor’s field of vision can be quite narrow, requiring users to move their hands around in an attempt to activate the faucet. Also, the sensors can sometimes be confused by the environment; a user’s light-colored clothing, for example, can cause the faucet to not work properly. Both of these factors can have the effect of discouraging proper hand washing.

Cleaning the faucet itself also can be an issue. Infrared faucets typically have seams and corners that are difficult to clean, particularly around the sensor window.

One solution to these problems is a new kind of hands-free technology that does not use infrared at all, but instead uses capacitance to detect a user’s presence and activate the faucet. Capacitance is the ability of a body to hold an electrical charge. Developed by Delta Faucet Co., Indianapolis, the Proximity sensing technology, in essence, turns the whole faucet into an ultra-sensitive antenna and creates a 3- to 4-inch field around the faucet. When a user’s hands enter the field, the faucet turns on and maintains a steady stream until the hands leave the field, or until a set amount of time expires.

The benefits of this technology are twofold. First, the faucets are easier to operate, thus promoting more effective hand-washing practices. Second, the faucet body has no seams or sensor windows, making cleaning easier and helping to minimize vandalism.

Some faucets, such as a surgeon’s scrub-up faucet, do not have an outlet flow control, but instead have a non-aerated, laminar flow. This eliminates the column of standing water that remains in a faucet once it is turned off.

For flush valves on toilets and urinals, infrared sensing technology had been the industry standard but is subject to the same problems that the faucets exhibited. To address this, Delta introduced H2Optics technology in 2009, which uses the principles of triangulation to calculate a user’s distance from the flush valve. (The same technology is used in the auto-focus feature of digital cameras.) This technology is more accurate than …

View More

Air Barriers Keep Good Air In, Bad Air Out

Understanding and controlling air flow in the building envelope will maximize energy efficiency.

 

Stanley D. Gatland II, CertainTeed Corp.

 

Unrestricted flow of air against or through a building can have an enormous impact on the building’s temperature and energy efficiency. In cold months, warm air leakage to the exterior, and the thrust of cold winds against the exterior surface of a building, can cause interior temperatures to drop, requiring extra work from the heating system and additional utility bills to keep the interior warm. The same is true with cool air leakage and warm air intrusion in summer months. Like heat flow, air flow has a strong impact on the building envelope.

In this third installment of Valley Forge, PA-based CertainTeed’s nine-article series on commercial building science, we’ll discuss how to control air leakage, air-pressure differential effects, air flow paths, air barrier systems, fenestration products, and compartmentalization. To learn how to correct the problems caused by air flow in buildings, we must first take a look at what it is and how it works.

The force behind air flow
Air flow occurs only when there is a difference between the exterior and interior of a building. Air will flow from a region of high pressure to one of low pressure-the bigger the difference, the faster the flow. Air-pressure differentials are thus the driving force behind air flow. There are three air-pressure differentials: wind pressure caused by external forces, stack pressure created by warm air rising, and mechanical pressure created by a building’s mechanical systems.

Wind-Pressure Effect: Wind pressure has a significant effect on buildings, as it creates a high positive pressure on the upwind side of the building and a low negative pressure on the downwind side of the building-the taller the building, the higher the pressure. Wind also has a strong influence on the impact of rain on building surfaces. It is essential to combine exterior air barriers with water resistive barriers to prevent rainwater from penetrating the building envelope.

Stack-Pressure Effect: Stack pressure occurs when atmospheric pressure differences exist between the top and bottom of a building due to temperature differences. The stack effect causes infiltration at the bottom and exfiltration at the top of buildings during the heating season. In warm southern climates, the stack effect is lessened due to the short heating season.

Mechanical Effect: The mechanical effect is caused by the HVAC system pressurizing the building. Many designers create systems with a slight positive pressure in the building to reduce the potential for air infiltration. At the veryleast, they try to create a neutral pressure to avoid constant air infiltration.

The next factor to consider is how air flows and what course it takes. There are three types of air flow paths: direct flow, diffuse flow, and channel flow.

Direct Air Flow: Direct air flow can be thought of as a linear path through an assembly. So, for example, a gap under a sliding glass door or a gap that goes straight through the assembly for whatever reason is considered direct air flow.

Diffuse Air Flow: Diffuse air flow happens when air can move through what seems to be a homogeneous material, but is in reality, porous. Concrete block with mortar joints can support diffuse air flow two ways: through the block and through cracks that form in the mortar joints.

Channel Air Flow: The third type of air-flow path, channel air flow, is an indirect path between openings in the building envelope. These openings are often a space hidden from view, where a wall and the roof deck are connected, for example. Such spaces must be blocked.

To restrict these different types of air flow, it is important to employ an efficient air-barrier system. There are a variety of choices in this area.

Types of air barriers
Designing an airtight building envelope is crucial to a building’s performance. Airtight building envelopes help control heat and sound energy, as well as airborne moisture flow and airborne contaminants. They even help to control the spread of fire if cavities are properly blocked. In short, airtight building envelopes create more energy-efficient, healthy buildings, which are more durable and require less maintenance. The best way to …

View More

HVAC System Heats, Saves at YMCA

The challenge was to find new ways to meet the HVAC needs for a new YMCA while keeping costs down. An HVAC system, with a custom-manufactured heat-recovery process, achieved both objectives.

 

 

By nature, collaborative efforts between two large organizations can be difficult to manage. When four organizations are involved, many see a recipe for disaster. Not so at the C.W. Avery Family YMCA in Plainfield, IL, which is a shining example of how a school board, hospital, city, and park district can successfully work together to create a 52,000-sq.-ft. facility to serve a community. One of the achievements of this effort is its HVAC system, which meets all expectations, saved on construction costs, and will save money in the long run.

Examples of HVAC savings for the facility range from innovative thinking in maintaining pool temperature and natatorium humidity levels, to nontraditional placement of heating/cooling units and the use of a fabric duct system.

The C.W. Avery Family YMCA’s eight-lane pool features a heat-recovery system from Dectron that maintains the water temperature at 80 F, while also keeping relative humidity at 50% and room temperature at 82 F in the 9,100-sq.-ft. natatorium.

Syed Ahmad, P.E., project engineer with R.L. Millies & Assoc., Munster, IN, and Stephen Doonan, vice president, DeKalb Mechanical, DeKalb, IL, used heat-recovery options and air-distribution designs that afforded smaller and more efficient blower motors; fabric, instead of labor-intensive metal ductwork; and many other innovative HVAC, value-engineering solutions that saved the $10.1-million facility tens of thousands of dollars in construction costs.

Additionally, annual operational savings will add up. For example, a custom-manufactured Dry-O-Tron DS-202 by Dectron Inc., Roswell, GA, uses a heat-recovery process to heat the eight-lane indoor pool’s water to 80 F, while simultaneously keeping the 9,100-sq.-ft. natatorium’s relative humidity and space temperature at a comfortable 50% and 82 F, respectively.

Ahmad estimated that the pool-water heating feature on the dehumidifier cuts energy usage by 20% to 25% when compared with a standard swimming-pool water heater with no heat recovery.

The Avery dehumidifier is also fitted with a factory-installed, natural-gas, back-up boiler by Raypak, Oxnard, CA. Specifying this feature saved thousands of dollars in piping, equipment-placement labor, and mechanical-room space.

The boiler’s rooftop location, along with the dehumidifier, is also safer because the combustion process is removed from interior mechanical rooms where flammable and corrosive pool chemicals are present. “We’ve learned early on that it’s a significant savings and just makes more sense to specify a boiler as part of the factory-engineered, rooftop package unit,” Ahmad said. He has designed several other natatoriums in the past.

The supply of domestic hot water for the entire recreation center is handled with boilers from Lochinvar Corp., Lebanon, TN.

Because Dectron is capable of custom manufacturing, another R.L. Millies energy-saving specification places 3,300-cfm (minimum code) and 16,100-cfm (purge) exhaust fans before the evaporator coil and relies solely on a supply-air fan to re-circulate natatorium air during unoccupied hours, at a significantly reduced energy rate. The exhaust fans operate only during occupied periods, as opposed to a conventional economizer that operates a full sized return fan in conjunction with the 24/7 supply fan.

R.L. Millies’ configuration specification, which was overseen and facilitated with Dectron by manufacturer’s representative, Imbert Corp., Niles, IL, is capable of introducing 100% outside air to purge the space effectively during super-chlorination periods. Splitting the two exhaust fans makes the dehumidifier more efficient with both net-sensible cooling and fan operation. In comparison with conventional economizer operation, the resultant annual energy savings from the 9,100-sq.-ft. natatorium’s dehumidifier is more than $40,000.

Further energy efficiency comes from Ahmad’s specification of Dectron’s Smart Saver heat recovery coil option. The Smart Saver extracts heat from the exhaust air stream to preheat the outdoor air, thus requiring less energy for make-up air heating.

R.L. Millies’ energy-efficient design began as pre-design meetings with the project architect, Clifford A. Bender, A.I.A., director of architecture, Healy, Bender & Assoc., Naperville, IL, and general contractor, Nicholas & Associates, Mt. Prospect, IL. The synergy between the HVAC design and the architecture assured the building orientation of windows on the South, West, and East sides to promote more solar gain in the winter and less in the …

View More

Surveillance, Security System Installed at Beau Rivage

When Beau Rivage Resort & Casino reopened in Biloxi, MS, more than a new surveillance and security system came online-the area’s economy also got a boost.

 

The reopened Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi, MI, boasts 1,200 video surveillance cameras; an audio playback messaging system; and an emergency, call-station system.

Rebuilding lives after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina encompasses many aspects. Toward the top of the list is restoring the economy that was a victim of the disaster. Beau Rivage Resort & Casino, now relocated in Biloxi, MS, is the largest gaming resort in the city. With its doors now reopened, it provides many jobs for the area’s residents.

Part of the reopening project was a video surveillance and security system supplied by North American Video (NAV), Brick, NJ. “Restoring the gaming industry to its pre-Katrina state is crucial to the economy of the city of Biloxi. The Beau Rivage will help stimulate the economy, put people back to work, and re-establish tourism in the area,” said Cynthia Freschi, president, NAV.

The video surveillance and security system includes more than 1,200 video-surveillance cameras integrated in an enterprise solution along with a new two new matrix-switching systems. NAV has also furnished and installed all alarms on the grounds; an audio playback messaging system; and a new emergency, call-station system for the parking garage. Also new to the system is a state-of-the-art, point-of-sale interface to the closed-circuit television system.

“NAV was an integral part of the team rebuilding Beau Rivage,” said Anne Mockler, director of surveillance, Beau Rivage. “It was a remarkable installation given the time frame. It took a tremendous amount of manpower from both NAV and Honeywell, Morristown, NJ, to get us where we needed to be to open. The support has been incredible.”…

View More

How to Build an Eco House

Building an eco-house does not mean to renounce comfort or to take a step back in the past. A house made with respect for the environment means health, wellbeing, financial independence and durability. A natural home means protecting nature, health and future.

Advantages of eco houses

Currently, more and more people are looking to move in a home that is friendly with the environment, because of the obvious advantages compared with classical houses. An eco-house is partially or integrally made from recyclable or natural materials, from the structure to walls and finishing. Even since the project phase, you have to consider the land type where you are building, the position of the sun throughout the day or the wind direction.

The most common material used is wood, but just because you are building a wooden house does not mean you are building an eco-home. In the last centuries, people preferred the ‘modern materials’ such as concrete, glass and iron. In the past years, building concepts tend to go back to origins, people preferring original and energy-efficient houses. Moreover, these are sometimes more resistant than traditional buildings.

Principles to consider when building an eco-house

An eco-house should improve the quality of interior air by its design. It is an important aspect, as it comes with effects on our health and mood. A green home must ensure a humidity of 30%-50% throughout the year, enough for the air not to feel dry, but also to avoid extreme humidity that helps the creation of molds.

Materials for building can even be found around the house. It is possible to use straws, bamboo or special type of argyle bricks, reducing the costs. As we are talking about natural materials, you can be sure you are preserving the health of everyone living in the house.

  1. Efficiency and ergonomic

The walls made of natural materials come with a high coefficient of thermal insulation. Such a house is warm during the winter and cold during the summer. Temperature is constant for a longer period, meaning you can save up to 75% of the costs to heat or cool the house.

  1. Resistant

Natural materials, contrary to the beliefs of some ‘specialists’, are more resistant to earthquakes and fire. The majority of materials used are flexible, or they simply don’t burn. If you are able to choose an optimal combination of such materials (like walls made of straws and covered with argyle), we can have a house resistant to all the common known disasters and accidents.

  1. Eco-friendly appliances

A green house isn’t complete without putting thought into the home and kitchen appliances that it will house. What’s the point in building a eco-friendly home and then using energy inefficient appliances or appliances that have a high carbon footprint? This footprint could be during use or in the manufacturing process. Carefully review energy ratings and manuals to ensure you buy only certified low energy use appliances like microwaves, fridge, etc.

  1. Cheap

As a green house is made of durable materials, the costs of building are covered in the long term. If we are able to find construction materials in nature, those will be cheaper and easier to build. Using solar or wind energy will save more money on the long term. Plus, considering the interest of more and more families for these types of constructions, it will be a lot easier to sell your home for a good price after a while.

 

 …

View More

Windows Help Preserve Historic Campuses

Carefully designed windows can bring modern energy savings, while remaining true to historic campus character.

 

John Lewis, American Architectural Manufacturers

 

Despite the general downturn in construction that began in 2007, one of the comparatively healthier commercial window market segments in 2008 was the construction or renovation of educational facilities. This has been spurred by an increasing focus on the infrastructure, the availability of grant funds, and demographic trends. Specific to the fenestration industry, some window manufacturers have fared relatively well by specializing in the niche market of historic reproduction windows.

The decision to renovate an historic structure or build new is usually more than a simple cost-benefit analysis.

Renovate or rebuild?

The question arises when contemplating the modernization of educational facilities on a campus or in a community whether to build new or to renovate an older structure. In the case of historic buildings, the decision is often more complicated and involves more than a simple cost-benefit analysis.

Constance E. Beaumont, of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Washington, has said, “Too many schools are casually condemned by biases that favor new construction, by school facility assessments that reflect little expertise in the rehabilitation of older buildings, and by ignorance of basic techniques for helping older buildings meet modern codes and program requirements.

“Too often, ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act], fire safety, and other important requirements are used as an excuse to demolish a valued school when in fact these requirements frequently can be met at a reasonable cost,” she continued. “Too often, smaller, community-centered schools that have held neighborhoods together for decades are destroyed without competent evaluations of their potential for continued use through modernization.”

After World War II, school construction entered a period of fine workmanship and use of quality materials, with ornamental details in stone, terra cotta, and tile that characterized the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Preservation maximizes the use of these existing materials and infrastructure, reduces waste, and preserves historic character. Even in a new-construction situation, a building’s proximity to other historically significant structures is often the driving force behind design and component selection for the new construction.

Weighing the pros and cons takes historical preservation knowledge, experience, and creativity. Few building committees, boards of regents, trustees, or school-board members have the technical expertise to properly compare the merits of renovation with those of new construction. Many of the architects and planning firms they retain to advise them can be unfamiliar with renovation techniques, or may simply be biased in favor of new construction.

All cost factors may not be adequately assessed in a cursory or biased cost-benefit comparison. For example, as much as 25% of the cost of new construction lies in preparing the site, laying the building foundation, installing utilities, and creating road-work access. Another 25% goes toward the building structure-its framing, walls, and roof. With a historic building, those components are already in place. If the historic building is planned for demolition, there will be costs to demolish it, abate hazardous materials, and dispose of debris (often 4% to 5% of the overall replacement costs).

Challenges of historic renovation

Perhaps the biggest challenge is maintaining the integrity of historic buildings while incorporating energy-saving measures and meeting accessibility and fire-code compliance mandates. These are requirements that can often conflict.

Codes: While preserving a building’s historic aesthetics often dictates all other elements of the project, it must also meet applicable building codes regarding accessibility and fire safety.

However, building codes are generally written with new construction in mind and often rule out older building materials and methods, even though the latter may result in buildings as safe as those constructed with new materials and methods. Cost-benefit studies often rigidly interpret code compliance, incorrectly declaring a building unsafe or cost prohibitive to retrofit.

In truth, the codes have some flexibility and offer the potential for waivers. Historic designation could make the project eligible for alternative building-code requirements that facilitate upgrades and open the door to additional funding sources.

The 2006 ICC International Existing Building Code (IEBC) is an alternative that contains requirements for improving and upgrading existing buildings to conserve resources and building history, while achieving appropriate levels of safety.

The …

View More

Control Hospital Access with Care

Medical facilities such as hospitals and out-patient centers require more than the usual access-control and security systems.

 

Derek Trimble, Johnson Controls Inc.

 

Its difficult enough for facilities that must remain accessible to the public, such as museums, airports, and city halls, it is particularly challenging to concurrently maintain access and the level of security needed to protect the people, property, and assets contained in that building. It is fair to say that this challenge can be even more strenuous for hospitals and medical centers, where those who are most vulnerable are welcomed, housed, treated, and visited.

Hospitals and medical centers must provide access to many people, including visitors, patients, medical professionals, and support staff. However, access must be controlled by sophisticated systems to protect patients, patient information, pharmaceuticals, and medical professionals.

Because hospitals are considered by many to be a community resource, people want to easily enter a facility and come or go at their leisure and through any door.
On the other hand, the public is quick to criticize when a security incident occurs. Hospitals are not the sanctuary they once were considered, said Fred Roll, president and principal consultant with Roll Enterprises Inc., a healthcare security consulting and training firm in Morrison, CO.

Access control defined

Access control has traditionally been one of the most important elements of a hospitals security solution. Ideally, the phrase access control refers to controlling who goes where and when. This includes providing and limiting access to people, places, and things, as well as tracking and monitoring individuals and assets. It can be as simple as locking cabinets or as complex as a formal audit trail for card access into a pharmaceutical dispensary.

According to JCAHO (the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, Oakbrook Terrace, IL), one element of performance by which a hospitals environment of care is measured is that the hospital controls access to and egress from security-sensitive areas, as determined by the hospital.

Roll advises his clients to think of the varying levels of security sensitivity as concentric rings with intensifying access-control efforts as the circles become more focused on security-sensitive areas. For example, the outside ring would start at the property perimeter, the next ring includes access points to the building, and the most concentrated ring involves the most sensitive areas, such as the nursery and pharmaceutical storage.

Employees and visitors

The original access-control device, the key-and-lock system, deters casual unauthorized access attempts but does not provide feedback, through an alarm for example, on these attempts. The advent of electronic access control allows monitoring of unauthorized access attempts. It also introduced a new class of keys that were not keys at all. The earliest key substitutes were insert devices, such as tokens, Holerith cards, and barium ferrite cards. Those were followed by swipe cards and numeric keypads. But insert/swipe cards and their readers are subject to wear and tear and require maintenance.

Unfortunately, some medical facilities are still using code locks as a level of protection, and they often do not follow protocols in changing the codes, said Roll. Most that use electronic access controls are still at the swipe card level of technology and are seriously looking to upgrade to proximity [technology].

Proximity cards use radio frequency (RF) technology. This contact-free solution reduces wear on cards and readers, and is more convenient for the staff.

Although not yet commonplace in hospitals and medical centers today, smart cards represent the state of the art in the evolution of the card. The chips in smart cards are capable of storing large amounts of data, performing calculations for encryption, or supporting an operating system on some of the more advanced cards.

Furthermore, data can be written to or read from smart cards on the fly. Thus a card used for access control could also hold additional information and carry other application-specific data.

The ability to incorporate many individual identifiers onto a single media makes this access control solution easier and more cost effective to administer, and provides a tighter degree of security. For example, hybrid solutions can handle a bar code for inventory control, a photo of the employee for identification, a dollar value for use in …

View More

No Noise, No Odor for Hospital Roofs

No Noise, No Odor for Hospital Roofs

Self-adhesive roofing membranes make hospital roof
replacement possible without disturbing patients.

 

Roofing a hospital involves special consideration for many reasons. Noise, odors, and safety are inherent concerns for a facility of this nature. Hospitals are also high-traffic, sensitive facilities that must remain functional throughout construction.

Using Polyglass Self Adhesive roofing membrane on the Flushing Hospital Medical Center in New York City, made it possible to replace the roof area above the maternity ward without generating the noise and/or odors that accompany installation of conventional roofing systems.

While the use of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) in roofing has diminished, it is still a good part of the process. Because the smell of the roofing process makes its way through windows, ventilation, and mechanical systems, hospital building facilitators are looking for cleaner roofing systems for buildings with sensitive needs.

A prime example of a hospital that dealt with roofing odor issues was Flushing Hospital Medical Center, New York City. In need of a new roofing system, they had to consider not only VOCs and smell, but also noise. The maternity ward was located directly below the area that needed to be re-roofed. It was critical that the area be re-roofed, yet it had to be invisible and odorless to the tiny patients below.

The product of choice was a roofing membrane that, although somewhat new to the market, offers a strong alternative for special-needs facilities. The product is a self-adhesive roofing membrane that eliminates the VOCs associated with conventional roofing systems.

Self adhesive roofing membranes have met the need for sensitive buildings. They avoid the need for mechanical fastenings, which traditionally are the main cause of installation noise. They also do not use hot asphalt that can produce harmful odors, said John Martone, vice president of operation for L. Martone and Sons, Inc., Glen Cove, NY, the roofing contractor for Flushing Hospital.

The self-adhesive roofing membrane used on the Flushing hospital eliminated the need for mechanical fasteners and the noise that accompanies that type of installation. Reducing noise is critical in roofing applications involving special-needs buildings such as medical centers.

Across the continental U.S. and the Pacific Ocean, St. Francis Medical Center, located in Honolulu, encountered the same issues of finding a roofing system that would comply with the hospitals noise and odor restrictions.

Once we removed the existing roof, the project needed to be invisible, said Gui Akasaki, owner of Commercial Roofing and Waterproofing in Honolulu, and the roofing contractor of choice for St. Francis. Roof renovation for a hospital is a major event. We always recommend the use of self-adhesive membranes. The hospital does not want us to use a product that would smell. The self-adhesives eliminate odor along with noise, dust, and other logistical issues.

Known for its critical-care units and trauma center, the St. Francis Medical Center had specifiers, architects, and contractors working together to find a product that would be able to meet all of these requirements. We used Polyglass Self Adhesive roofing membranes, manufactured by Polyglass USA Inc., Fernley, NV. The self-adhesive technology of the membranes met every requirement the hospital established, Akasaki said. The hospital set the standards and we were able to design a roof system that would meet its needs.…

View More