The healthcare system has an enormous carbon footprint. In fact, Health Care Without Harm estimates that if the global healthcare industry were a country, it would have the fifth highest greenhouse gas emissions.
It is no wonder, then, that many healthcare organizations are committing to more sustainable practices and attempting to become carbon-neutral. In 2020, Kaiser Permanente became the first health system in the United States to achieve carbon neutral status, effectively eliminating its 800,000-ton annual carbon footprint.
While efforts like these are admirable, some energy efficiency policies at healthcare facilities may increase infection risk, particularly airborne infection risk, to patients, staff and visitors.
For example, the Energy Star energy efficiency program states that reducing operating and procedure room ventilation rates can lower utility bills and increase energy efficiency. However, increased airflow in these types of rooms is critical to preventing airborne infections and hospital acquired infections. It is vital for hospitals to ensure certain areas are “negative pressure,” meaning more air is entering the room than is leaving the room. It is also crucial to make sure the HVAC systems are tested and balanced properly so that improper airflow does not contribute to infection risk.
At any given time, 1 in 31 hospital patients has a hospital acquired infection, and these infections are associated with about 99,000 deaths each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Infection. It is crucial that healthcare facilities implementing energy saving measures take the entire facility and ventilation system into consideration when making changes. Otherwise, they may be jeopardizing the health and safety of building occupants.
Life Balance Technologies has developed an integrated solution for air balance auditing that reviews 100 percent of a facility for infection risk. The Life Balance process integrates the mechanical design, HVAC inventory, room application, and industry standards to audit the infection control parameters of an entire building. To learn more about this innovative technology, visit our Software page.
Life Balance Technologies helps hospitals and companies easily identify airborne infection risks and effectively manage their HVAC systems. By streamlining the process for compliance, auditing, and reporting, we help reduce costs and save lives.