A Dialogue On Hospital Ventilation

Health Care Without Harm is convening a sector dialogue to help improve health care ventilation and indoor air quality in ways that strengthen the environment of care, and enhance patient visitor, staff, and community well being. Changes could also help reduce climate change's health impacts, which medical societies have called the defining public health threat of the century.  

Good ventilation rates help with infection prevention (IP), but parts of the evidence base for existing standards are uncertain. In addition, codes may unintentionally over-prescribe, creating one-size-fits-all designs and practices that a growing community of health care experts believe over-ventilate the 85-90% of floor space designated non-protective.  

Updated standards could build in new flexibility, data, knowledge, technologies and strategies, and align with payment models focused on population health. All this makes standards change more compelling and aligned with hospitals' core mission.

Three Points To Consider:

  • Heating, cooling and ventilation consume 2/3-3/4 of a hospital’s energy use. Updated codes could help the sector annually save up to 20%-30% of electricity and 30%-50% of natural gas, or $2-3.5 billion and 8.5-14 million metric tons of greenhouse gases, with positive impacts on capital planning and budgets.
  • Reducing fossil fuel emissions can help reduce community asthma, cardiovascular, and allergen admissions and re-admissions.
  • Efficiency can increase facilities' resilience to extreme weather events and emergencies.

So how might ventilation standards be adapted and/or adopted in ways that still protect patient, staff and visitors' health? 

Interested Stakeholders Can:

  • Participate in bi-monthly conference calls and webinars. To get notices, contact Paul Lipke, Health Care Without Harm's Senior Advisor for Energy and Buildings.
  • Educate internal stakeholders to raise awareness and address concerns and define the potential benefits to your particular facilities, health system or even region.
  • Consider becoming an alternative ventilation strategy pilot site, using IAQ monitoring and energy data collection in eligible (non-critical) spaces.
  • Support action through coordinated letter writing to ventilation standards organizations.
  • Participate in data collection.

Learn More

Health Care Without Harm Dialogue Documents

Several documents are in formats to allow stakeholder modification.