dECOnhealth – Demand Controlled Ventilation in Healthcare Settings


The building stock in the EU accounts for several billions of square meters and it is among the most energy consuming sectors covering about 40 % of our final energy demand. The building sector also has the largest potential for energy savings as it has been estimated that up to 75 % of the buildings are energy inefficient. Hospitals have a particularly high energy demand and hence there is a significant need for energy-saving measures in that building sector. In hospital environments, the energy savings must be carried out carefully to not compromise patient, staff and visitor safety and comfort.

The objective of the dECOnhealth project is to develop feasible demand controlled ventilation (DCV) methods and control strategies for hospital environments and investigate the energy savings potential of the solutions. DCV has been generally accepted as one of the main methods in reducing building energy consumption and maintaining comfortable indoor air quality and thermal environments. It is known that DCV is suitable for spaces that have varying occupancy rates but suitability to hospitals has not been widely studied yet. In hospitals the applied DCV methods have to be carefully developed and made robust in operation in order to maintain condition requirements in critical environments as well. For instance, achieving hygienic target levels and assuring designed distribution of clean supply air are critical requirements in preventing aerosol transmission of infections in operating theatres.

In this bilateral project, the theoretically developed concepts for demand-oriented ventilation are tested in a field test at the RWTH Aachen University Hospital on the German side and at Helsinki University Hospital on the Finnish side with qualitative documentation through energy monitoring.

The applied research methods include literature review, surveys and interviews of hospital staff, building simulations, monitoring of actual energy consumption, full scale laboratory experiments and possibly a pilot field test. In a first step, an analysis of the state of the art is done with regard to demand controlled ventilation (DCV), applied ventilation solutions and control strategies, indoor air quality, thermal comfort and energy consumption in hospitals as well as the legal framework of each country. Then, the energy savings potential is assessed with building simulations. The simulation results are compared against actual, monitored energy consumption in hospital case studies and field tests. Based on the simulation data, new DCV control strategies are developed. The performance of these strategies (in terms of maintaining good indoor air quality and thermal comfort level) is tested in laboratory experiments and possibly in hospital pilots. The results are disseminated to the identified target groups and transferred in terms of recommendations to the legal organs like the EN committee and the national committees SFS and DIN.