Putting planned maintenance top of the list

A planned maintenance strategy can pay for itself, and should be a top priority, explains Craig Harding, Technical Field Service manager at HVAC specialist, Aermec UK.

Healthcare services are facing unprecedented challenges on numerous fronts, and identifying a roadmap for Net Zero emissions for a system as large as the NHS is challenging. The government's focus is for the NHS to be the first Net Zero healthcare service in the world by 2045. Underpinning the delivery of care and a comfortable environment for patients as well as employees is an essential cooling and heating infrastructure. The NHS currently contributes approximately 4-5% of the UK's total carbon emissions. Decarbonisation is expensive, but a good HVAC maintenance strategy that informs and influences how healthcare estates operate can ensure that the buildings and plant sited within them operate efficiently, are compliant, and are at lower risk of unexpected incidents and 'outages', which can incur high costs.

HVAC systems in healthcare estates can be some of the most convoluted systems — little wonder when in many cases such estates have vast air-conditioning, ventilation, and heating systems across many locations. They also use significant amounts of potable water and energy. Many systems are run continuously. A robust and detailed maintenance programme is crucial to provide insight into the health of your estate. It will reduce long-term maintenance costs, ensure the expected lifecycle cost return on your investment is achieved without premature failure, and help maintain decarbonisation. The fluctuating availability of fossil fuels, combined with their harmful effect on the planet, means they are no longer financially or ethical viable. Boosting resilience and energy efficiencies in existing equipment can help build greater resilience in health estates, and contribute to the transition towards more sustainable technologies and meeting Net Zero targets.

All NHS Foundation Trusts have a statutory responsibility for managing their assets. Trusts — like any other organisation — need to stay on top of legislative requirements, and to reduce their emissions and carbon footprints while delivering high standards of care. It is a difficult balancing act. Chiller or air-handling unit failures and other unplanned reactive works can prove costly, as well as resulting in disturbances to the day-to-day running of, in many cases, vast estates and delivery of patient care. Healthcare estates managers need to be initiative-taking and innovative.

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