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Minimising energy use and mould growth risk in tropical hospitals

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posted on 07.05.2013, 13:36 by Abdul Murad Zainal Abidin
Critical areas in a hospital, such as Intensive Care Units (ICUs) and isolation rooms, are designed to strict health standards. More often than not, these areas operate continuously to maintain designed indoor conditions in order to ensure the safety of patients, making them energy intensive areas. Several attempts have been made to design them to be more energy-efficient. However, cases have emerged in hot and humid countries like Malaysia where combination of poor design, operation and maintenance practices, exacerbated by the humid outdoor conditions especially during night time, have led to occurrences of mould growth in these critical areas. A question arise whether energy efficient design of a critical area can be achieved without incurring a risk of mould growth due to factors like moisture transfer, or continuous part load operation of HVAC systems. The objective of research in this thesis is to investigate the trade-off between optimizing the building and HVAC systems and minimizing the risk of mould growth in hospital buildings located in hot and humid climates. The problem formulation is a single zone isolation room with dimensions based from a real-life isolation room of a district hospital in Malaysia. The design variables, namely HVAC systems and the details of building constructions were selected as input files for energy performance evaluation using EnergyPlus. The output from the simulation will be compared with the selected existing mould growth model during post processing to determine the optimum solution. Simulation and the generation of solutions will be repeated until the most optimum solution is achieved. A binary-encoded Genetic Algorithm (GA) was used as an approach to the minimisation of hospital building energy use. The GA is proven to be effective in performing multi-objective optimisation, since the objective functions for this research are more than one; namely, the minimum annual energy use in the isolation room and the critical indoor surface conditions, such as temperature and relative humidity, below which there would be no mould growth. The research has shown that the normal practice of isolation room design for Malaysian hospitals does not work in minimising energy use and minimising the risk of mould growth and a new design guideline for isolation rooms in Malaysia is recommended. The principal originality of the research will be the application of optimisation methods to investigate the relationship, or trade-off between energy use and the risk of mould growth, particularly for hospital buildings in a hot and humid climate. In this respect, the new knowledge will be on the optimisation procedure and required modelling/analysis components. This combinatorial approach would serve as decision making tool for building and HVAC systems designers in designing more energy-efficient overall environment systems in hospitals, with particular attention to critical areas that are operating continuously.



  • Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering


© Abdul Murad Zainal Abidin

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

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