Innovation through technology is cool; innovation and energy efficiency through technology can be even cooler–literally. A new initiative that integrates a hospital’s building automation system with surgery scheduling can help optimize air exchange rates and energy use—and is projected to save upwards of $10,000 in each operating room annually.

Announced by Johnson Controls,, Milwaukee, Wis., in development with architecture, engineering, and consulting firm HDR, Healthcare Environment Optimization translates and routes data from surgery scheduling to the building automation system and determines which of the two HVAC system modes should be used: surgery or setback.

Typically the HVAC system in a hospital room uses a large portion of energy in order to ventilate and eliminate airborne contaminants. This is where the intelligence behind the system’s ability to determine ‘surgery or setback’ kicks in. According to Jonson Controls, when the system is in surgery mode, the HVAC system achieves a minimum number of air changes every hour per industry or local authority standards. In setback mode, most regulatory entities state that air changes may be reduced to 25% of suggested values when the operating room is unoccupied.

Beyond the concept phase, this solution is being beta tested at Union Hospital in Terre Haute, Ind., at a new 500,000-sq.ft., facility. The hospital is currently installing the new solution in conjunction with its system integrator to integrate the system to its building management system.

“We are the largest provider of health services between Indianapolis and St.
Louis, and in order to continuously improve and expand our services, we must strive for the most efficient operations at all levels,” says Dave Snapp, facilities director, Union Hospital. “The surgical environment is especially sensitive and corners can never be cut. Through Healthcare Environment Optimization, we expect to reduce our energy use and operational costs, but more importantly, we plan to do so while maintaining an uncompromising surgical environment for our patients and clinical staff.”

According to Johnson Controls, with Healthcare Environment Optimization, an HVAC system operates at a reduced rate at the appropriate time. Additional benefits include the ability to track air exchange rates and temperatures for recordkeeping purposes and realtime alarms to allow occupants to immediately address HVAC system problems, among others.