Hospital Boom Keeps Contractors Busy

December 24, 2007
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At the National Institutes of Health and Biomedical Research Center (shown above) in Baltimore, Md., EMCOR subsidiary The Poole & Kent Corp. performed the installation of the HVAC and plumbing systems, medical gas, RODI purified water systems, hot water heating systems, chilled water systems, and steam and condensate piping.


What do you get when you combine an aging population with advancements in technology? Answer: An upswing in construction and design in the health care industry.

As the young folk nowadays would put it, “it’s all good” for contracting firms that have committed to this sector. For four consecutive years, respondents to consulting and research firm ZweigWhite’s annual “AEC Business Trends Survey” have rated the health care market as the hottest market sector for design and construction firms.

In its most latest market intelligence report, “The 2007-2010 Health Care Market for Design & Construction Firms,” ZweigWhite identifies the drivers of the health care market, highlights the biggest trends impacting facility design and construction, and analyzes the growth opportunities in the market through 2010.

The study somewhat echoes a recent report by USA Today, which noted that the United States is in the middle of the biggest hospital construction boom in a half-century, a development, it predicted, “expected to increase the use of high-tech medicine and add fuel to rising health care costs.” The newspaper stated that the hospital industry has spent nearly $100 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars in the past five years on new facilities, up 47 percent from the previous five years.

“We are replacing a generation of hospitals that are obsolete,” Kirk Hamilton, a hospital architect who teaches at Texas A&M University, told USA Today.

New hospitals don’t mean more beds, either. According to the newspaper’s report, capacity fell to 808,000 beds in 2004, down 18,000 from 2001. The money is being spent on more luxurious buildings packed with advanced equipment.

The boom means “huge opportunities, especially for those with a strong track record in health care facility design,” said Stephen Whitney, president and CEO of Albert Kahn and Associates Inc., headquartered in Detroit, Mich. “From all indications, this trend will be with us for the next eight to 10 years.”

Many smart HVACR businesses are tagging right along in the hospital construction boom. Some are taking on renovations. Others are in the complete design-build process. Among others, this includes EMCOR Group Inc., with corporate headquarters in Norwalk, Conn.; Comprehensive Energy Services Inc. (CES), based in Longwood, Fla.; Albert Kahn Associates; and TAC, considered among the leading providers of building automation solutions.

The above companies, and more, are benefiting from the surge in construction and renovation.



EMCOR ON A ROLL

In the eyes of EMCOR Chairman and CEO Frank T. MacInnis, the group’s projects - which include construction and service work at hospitals, clinics, diagnostic, and research facilities nationwide - demonstrate the company’s continued expertise in the growing health care industry.

“The American population is graying and EMCOR is there to provide the infrastructure and services needed to serve the exacting, complex, and mission-critical systems and facilities that are so important throughout the health care industry - and will increasingly become even more important - as this demographic continues to grow,” said MacInnis.

“Medical facilities - including hospitals, biotech facilities, and research labs - which are system-rich and aligned with our core competencies and expertise have long been a major part of our project portfolio. As this sector continues to grow, we expect to provide new buildings and services to this constantly-expanding sector for many years to come.”

Last year, EMCOR said its companies worked on 169 projects in the health care and biotechnology industries. In addition, the company said its first quarter 2007 project backlog included $359 million in health care projects, accounting for 9.3 percent of total backlog.

Its new health care projects include:

• The Johns Hopkins Hospital (Baltimore) - EMCOR subsidiaries Poole & Kent-North and S.A. Comunale Co. have been awarded contracts relating to the mechanical construction, as well as the design and installation of fire protection systems, for two connected 15-story tower clinical buildings and the new main entry for the hospital. According to EMCOR, this project is the nation’s largest health care project under construction “and the most ambitious redevelopment in Johns Hopkins’ 117-year history.”

This 1.5 million-square-foot medical facility will interconnect to the recently constructed Weinberg Building to form a new 560-bed clinical facility encompassing the Children’s Tower and the Adult Critical Care Tower.

The mechanical contract awarded to Poole & Kent-North includes installation of medical gas outlets, custom HVAC units and piping, plumbing (including sanitary and medical air piping and fixtures), and 3.5 million pounds of sheet metal for the construction and installation of the HVAC ductwork.

The fire protection contract awarded to S.A. Comunale Co. involves the design, fabrication, and installation of over 15,000 sprinkler heads and 34 miles of pipe.

• Philips Medical Systems (Andover, Mass.) - EMCOR said it will manage various aspects of the ordering, site analysis, logistics, startup processes, and all corrective and planned maintenance service activities for Philips Medical Systems’ chilled water services program at 1,800 facilities. Philips Medical Systems is considered one of the global leaders in diagnostic imaging systems, health care information technology solutions, and patient monitoring and cardiac devices. EMCOR said its national network of operating companies would coordinate and perform the work.



EMCOR subsidiaries The Poole & Kent Corp. and S.A. Comunale Co. have been awarded contracts for the mechanical construction, as well as the design and installation of fire protection systems, for two connected 15-story tower clinical buildings and the new main entry for Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

CES, KAHN, OTHERS B-U-S-Y, TOO

In Florida, CES, considered a statewide, recognized leader in design-build-maintain mechanical contracting, was recently awarded the progressive care unit, an HVAC renovation project located in Florida Hospital Winter Park. The project was valued at approximately $500,000, with a 60-day completion schedule. Sunrise Electric is the prime contractor.

The project scope consists of the demolition, renovation, and installation of HVAC systems, including air-handling units, reheat coils, fans, fire and smoke dampers, new sheet metal air ducts, steam, chilled and condensate water piping, and associated temperature controls.

CES said it provides a full range of commercial/industrial heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and plumbing services, including; design, construction, service, controls, refrigeration, and maintenance. National winner of the Mechanical Contractor of the Year award presented by Excellence Alliance Inc., CES celebrates its 15th year in business and also has been ranked among the University of Florida’s Top 100 fastest growing private companies in Florida.

Odessa (Wash.) Memorial Hospital recently completed a $2.9 million project to upgrade its facilities and mechanical systems. Hospital officials said they reduced the building’s utility costs by more than $21,000 in the first half of this year.

Like CES, Albert Kahn and Associates has had its share of the hospital building projects, too. The 250-person planning and design management firm offers health care consulting, programming, and planning to clients. It’s a national trend, said president Whitney, adding that the strongest growth markets are the Southeast, Southwest, and California.

As Whitney explained, many hospitals today were built under the Hill-Burton Act, which makes them date back to the 1950s and 1960s. Many of these facilities have undergone additions and renovations to the point now where further modification is no longer cost-effective.

“Replacement is the right answer for the future of these hospitals,” said Whitney.

In an interview with an architect/engineering publication, Bren- da Bush-Moline, senior vice president of VOA Associates Inc., said there’s no immediate end to the growth. VOA, based in Chicago, offers services in several different markets, including health care.

“If you’re looking at master plans that go out 2020 and 2025, I think it’s here to stay,” Bush-Moline told ZweigWhite.



EMCOR subsidiary Gowan, Inc. was awarded a contract for the replacement of piping throughout levels 17-23 at the Methodist Hospital Research Institute in Houston. Said EMCOR Chairman and CEO Frank T. MacInnis, “Medical facilities, which are system rich and aligned with our core competencies and expertise, have long been a major part of our project portfolio.”

TAC TO THE RESCUE

In Odessa, Wash., Odessa Memorial Hospital said it reduced its utility costs by more than $21,000 in the first six months of 2007, following the completion of a $2.9 million project to upgrade its facilities and mechanical systems. That’s also the final tally provided by the Energy Solutions Division of TAC, which served as general contractor for one-half of the project and completed a performance contract, with guaranteed energy savings, for the remainder.

In addition to enhancing comfort for patients, staff, and visitors, TAC said the improvements have provided utility savings 18 percent higher than the amount guaranteed by the provider of building automation solutions.

“TAC worked closely with the staff here at Odessa Memorial and with the architect in order to develop a project that best suited our needs and, at the same time, fit our budget - which was considerably less than the need in this situation,” said Mark Barglof, hospital administrator, Odessa Memorial Hospital.

“TAC directed the entire team, including hospital staff, the architect, engineering consultants, and subcontractors, through the construction process. Our confidence in TAC has paid off with both greater comfort and even larger savings than expected.”

According to Wes McDaniel, vice president of Energy Solutions, TAC originally approached the hospital as a performance-contracting candidate. However, the hospital also had various other projects it wanted implemented.

“Our ability to meet the special needs of the client led us to assume dual responsibilities in this unique situation,” said McDaniel. “We even held meetings with the community to gain support for the project and raise additional funds.”

Under the performance contract, TAC provided new, high- efficiency heating and chilled- water systems, two new air-handling units and supporting devices, direct-digital controls (DDCs) to manage the facility, and commissioned the mechanical system. The general contracting project included a new roof, window replacement, a new electrical service, and fire protection for the hospital.

According to Odessa Memorial officers, TAC tightly monitored conditions during construction and developed precautions to ensure that the final project met all applicable health care HVAC codes. These included not only comfort, but addressed IAQ concerns crucial for hospitals, such as meeting return-air requirements, providing thorough-air filtering, installing dual-fuel supplies, and maintaining minimum facility temperatures during emergency power operation. During construction, TAC said it took precautions when abating asbestos in occupied areas to control the spread of infectious airborne diseases.

Odessa Memorial officials were happy with the fact TAC designed construction phasing and scheduling, recognizing the hospital’s need to continue serving patients.

“For example, TAC considered the impact of relocating the emergency room access and the location of helicopter emergency airlift service, as well as the impact of displacing long-term care residents who needed to be able to circulate inside and outside of the facility,” said Barglof. “As a result, there was minimal disruption to hospital services during construction.”



Sidebar: Wireless Projects

At St. Anthony’s Hospital in Oklahoma City, Siemens Building Technologies Inc., recently demonstrated the potential of wireless building controls in hospitals. And, according to Siemens, the Apogee wireless field level network (WFLN) solution was instrumental in providing a flexible and reliable system, without disrupting patient care or hospital operations.

“Transitioning to wireless controls was unlike any other construction project I’ve experienced at St. Anthony’s,” said John Mobley, facilities manager at St. Anthony’s Hospital. “It was not invasive to our operations and has resulted in improved conditions for the rest of the staff and, most importantly, our patients and their families.”

Two years ago St. Anthony’s, one of the largest hospitals in Oklahoma City, needed critical updates in order to maintain a comfortable environment for its patients and staff. Upgrading the system would also improve operational efficiency, saving the hospital from costly maintenance fees incurred because of outdated equipment.

Siemens was brought in to provide the necessary changes for St. Anthony’s. Steps included replacing HVAC controls in-patient care areas, isolation rooms, surgical suites, and the mechanical plant. Acknowledging the unique environment of a hospital, Siemens approached the project with a wireless solution in mind. According to Mobley, Apogee wireless now provides St. Anthony’s with a low-fault and unobtrusive control communication system.

“Working with Siemens on upgrading our building controls protects and increases the value of our investment in our facility,” said Mobley.

Because the networks are installed without hard wiring, Siemens said wireless-based systems offer hospital and patient care facility designers, managers, and builders “more choice and fewer constraints.” One of the greatest benefits of a wireless solution, said Mobley, is its potential to reduce the amount of cable and the number of ceiling penetrations, which lowers the amount of airborne contamination and other risks associated with construction.

According to Siemens, wireless solutions can also limit maintenance costs associated with troubleshooting, as there is no physical communications media that can be accidentally damaged, thus reducing the amount of time spent.

Publication Date: 12/24/2007

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