U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Building Technologies Office
Hospital Energy Alliance: Integrated Building Design Video (Text Version)
Below is a text version of the Hospital Energy Alliance Integrated Building Design video about the energy-efficiency benefits of involving multiple disciplines and groups in the design of new hospitals.
What is integrated design, and what are we doing related to integrated design research? At the University of Washington, we've been really interested in the siloing of these systems within design in the building industry. When I say "siloing," I mean the architects do the work, engineers do their work. There is very little communications; the contractors, the owners do their work. What we have seen is that cross disciplines are required to get those large reductions in energy use. So that requires an integrated team, much like what the A.I.A. calls integrated project delivery.
The integrated building design process for health care facilities is pretty interesting. This is something that many health care organizations have been doing more and more in the last few years. It really means pulling the entire team together very early.
Early in the design phase, we did something that is now just a normal part of our construction process: We held an energy charrette.
When we started the project, we went through a design charrette, and the design charette is kind of a bunch of people sitting around a table and they are all throwing out ideas, and there's never a bad idea.
We see it as a large team, which is a huge investment, but we think it's absolutely critical. The people that are commonly not included in those early discussions are all the engineers. It's generally an architectural discussion, with a design group from the hospital, which might include the facility's manager or V.P. But quite commonly it doesn't, and so the people that are left out are the people we are trying to include.
Certainly, it's the frontline caregivers, but in addition it should be patients themselves, should be part of that design team. It should be the folks who clean the building; it should be infection control experts; it should be our labor union partners.
We clearly said, all the engineers, and when I say all, we need structural, electrical and mechanical in those early discussions. We need the electric utility because we're talking about changing forms of energy that we use, especially if we're going to heat pumping. So we need the electrical utility there to identify the opportunities both in annual energy savings and peak demand savings. So having the contractor there is certainly key.
Typically you might not hire a general contractor or subcontractors until late in the design. This is actually saying before you draw a line you have your subcontractors, your general contractor, you have cost estimators, of course the architects and engineers. And you have the owner's representation.
Negotiating a relationship with the contractor early in the process, so they can be involved in assessing capital cost questions as to operating costs, which then the facilities folks can help us make the decisions about which systems are really on the table and which ones absolutely aren't.
This does mean that you're going to spend more time in design, but in the end you'll get a far better building because you've engaged not only the people that are treated in the building but you're taking care of the people who are providing care as well as those people who are caring for the building itself.
We regularly met on a monthly basis and that was probably our primary mode of communication, was a very large monthly afternoon-long meeting where everyone was on board. What was important here was that architects respond and engineers respond to the client's needs and in this case the client was very driven by having this be a green building.
Alan Bell: We had set a goal of LEED Platinum for the hospital. This was a number of years back when LEED was just getting started, and so there was a lot of learning about what LEED is and how it affects a hospital.
When we were in the planning stages we said, ok, no idea is a ridiculous idea. Let's get it all out there and then let's be careful about not doing dumb things just to get LEED points. So we had dozens of ideas out on the table that ended up not making the cut; I mean, one version was, we were going to have windmills on top of the hospital.
We looked at some solar energy items too. We looked at photovoltaics.
Whenever anyone thought of anything, it got batted around and around and people were able to take that idea and sometimes run with it in a slightly different direction and turn it in to something that ended up being embodied in the building.
Don't be afraid to be creative, don't be afraid to think big. Consider a multitude of ideas and then tailor them to your budget. And the second piece of that is, think about what impact the operating efficiencies of the building are going to have, not over the next four, five, or six years but over the next 40 or 45 or 50 years, which will be generally the life span of a building of this nature.
Out of about two dozen potential conservation measures, we found 11 that suggested a large enough payback in energy savings, operational cost savings that we would go ahead and find a way to finance them and actually place them in the project.
With integrated design in both a retrofit situation as well as a new building, you actually have a lot of opportunities as long as the team sets the egos aside. Often times, don't let the architect kind of bully the rest of the team; let the whole team participate in an open dialogue so that any member actually could change the design or make the design more effective in terms of that safety component or that energy component.