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Ventilation and shading provide healthier air in hospitals and care centers

When renovating and refurbishing a health care center, not only energy-saving measures must be taken, but also the installation of amenities that ensure comfort in hospitals and health centers is guaranteed. Special attention should be paid to the quality of indoor air and the temperature in the rooms and other areas.

In recent years, it has scarcely been possible to keep up with construction projects in the healthcare sector. Everywhere, new hospitals and residential care projects were being built or existing facilities were being thoroughly renovated and expanded. Architects and developers needed to take many elements into account: for example, the adaptation of the size of the rooms to the number of patients, the integration of adequate and proper lighting and soundproofing walls between rooms or the use of appropriate materials and products (good wall and roof insulation, high-efficiency insulating glass, no rough wall finishes, etc.). Further, the indoor climate is crucial in hospitals and care centers. Good air quality and a pleasant temperature improve the recovery of a patient and let the residents of care homes enjoy every day. The indoor air and temperature are not only important for the patients but also for the staff and visitors.


Healthy air

Often the air in hospitals and care centers contains fungi, bacteria and viruses, which are usually caused and distributed by poor ventilation and overheating. CO² accumulates due to lack of ventilation in rooms and corridors and leads to all kinds of complaints from patients, staff and visitors. As a result, the indoor air is contaminated. That is why it is so important to ventilate regularly and correctly. Just opening the windows is insufficient. A controlled basic ventilation is the only efficient way.


Pleasant temperature

In addition to good air quality, the temperature also plays an important role. In health care centers, many windows are often provided. After all, daylight has a positive impact on the recovery of a sick person or on the mood and comfort of an elderly person. Moreover, it is important for a patient to always maintain that contact with the environment. However bad the condition may be, the hospital stay should always be considered as temporary. In nursing homes and rehabilitation centers, people enjoy the view of the garden or eye contact with passers-by on the street. Due to these windows, on warm days it can become quite hot in the rooms, which obviously does not improve the comfort of the patient. Ventilative cooling and the reduction of solar radiation during the day by efficient external solar shading should prevent overheating.


Health Care Concept®

With its Healthcare Concept® RENSON® offers complete energy-efficient solutions that help to create a healthy and comfortable indoor climate in care homes and hospitals. This concept consists of three elements which allow comfort to be optimized in hospitals and care centers in a simple manner, whether it is a large renovation or a new construction, or a small façade renovation: continuous, controlled basic ventilation, ventilative cooling and external solar shading.

Health Care Concept grondige renovatie of nieuwbouw


A façade renovation can involve the integration of window vents for the supply of fresh air or of louvre panels and external solar shading to control the temperature. For major renovation or construction, a complete solution can be selected, which combines natural or automatically controlled fresh air supply and controlled extraction of contaminated air (Healthconnector based on CO2 and moisture) with ventilative cooling and external solar shading. Moreover, the system can be integrated in different modules at different times. For example, in the first stage the façade may be fitted with window vents for the supply of air, subsequently screens or brise-soleil can be provided and, in an even later phase, the controlled discharge can be installed.


Ventilation and sun protection in practice

You may think this is all very well in theory, but will it also work in practice? By using examples of healthcare projects, we are happy to explain some possible applications.


The Retirement and Nursing Home Dilhome in Dilbeek has expanded considerably – from 25 to 90 beds. The aging population means that there is, after all, a rising demand in Dilbeek for housing facilities for the elderly. The new building, designed by architect Exoot in Brussels, consists of spacious rooms measuring between 20 and 35 m². All rooms have an adapted infrastructure to accommodate able-bodied, semi-invalid and disabled residents, and those with dementia. They are equipped with all comfort and all modern amenities such as internet access. There is also ample space for relaxation, with an activities room, a TV area, a cafeteria and a restaurant. There are also spacious terraces, allowing residents on sunny days to enjoy the nice weather outdoors.


The architect and developer also thought about the air quality and control of the sun. By choosing the Mono AK Fixvent® they killed two birds with one stone. This solution combines a self-regulating window vent with a wind-resistant sun screen. The Fixvent®Mono AK ensures a continuous supply of fresh air without draughts. Thanks to the wind-resistant screen, the sun does not touch the glass surface and overheating, troublesome reflections and discoloration of the interior are avoided. Finally, the use of acoustic filler ensures that the residents do not suffer from outside noise either.


To improve the operation of its emergency department, day hospital and surgical sterilization service, the board of the Sint-Jozefskliniek in Izegem decided to invest in a new project. However, the location in the center of the city offered no expansion possibilities. Only the garden close to the operating theater could be used. For this bold new space – to a design by the Ostend architect group Buro-Nova – architect Katrien Vanheste opted for a sustainable approach. The windows are made of anodized aluminum, a material with good insulating properties and easy to maintain. The typology of the windows and the parapet were chosen as a function of whether a specific location was open or closed (examination room, patient room, etc.).

Sint Jozefskliniek

Penetrating sunlight can cause overheating, hence the architect and the developer searched for solutions to manage the sun. Architect Katrien Vanheste explains the choice: “The client wanted a system that ensured a clear view outside. A system that could not be influenced by the wind, and that in addition, was comfortable for each patient. That is why we opted for sun blocking glazing and cantilevered canopies with bronze-colored aluminum Sunclips-blades by RENSON®, which are mounted above the window. The shape of the canopy is calculated so that – independent of the climatic conditions – enough shade can always be provided. There are also the RENSON® Icarus Quickfix blades in a vertical version which are repeated as a design element at the entrance to the emergency room, and at the location of the MUG.”


The Jan Palfijn Hospital in Ghent recently also had a complete overhaul, after thirty years. The temporary architect association of Boeckx-Arch & Teco-Bontinck drew up the Master Plan and general contractor Cordeel coordinated the overall reorganization, the renovation of the main building and the boiler room and the redevelopment of the site around the building. During the renovation, the four-bed communal wards were replaced one by one by single or double rooms with own toilet facility. The number of operating rooms was also expanded from eight to 12 with nine large rooms, two rooms for minor surgery and one operating theater in the delivery room. The technical installations and boiler room are now housed on the roof and the former boiler building, which stands next to the main building, has been transformed into the restaurant, the kitchen and a distribution kitchen.

 jan_palfijn_hospitaal_gent_Een uitkragende luifel met Icarus lamellen van Renson voorkomt oververhitting in de ruimtes

In 2.5 years, the face of this hospital has changed completely and a clumsy mastodon was transformed into a fresh-looking building with sleek, elegant lines. The Palfijn Hospital did indeed receive a completely new façade. Only the base of blue limestone remained, because the board had this renovated several years ago. On the stripped concrete structure of the upper floors, the contractor laid new screed, PVC flooring and an insulation layer of 16 cm. A waterproof membrane and white, lacquered, aluminum cladding cassettes were added to this insulation layer. All existing windows were replaced with new systems with thermal break window frames and customised glass. To limit incoming solar heat in the rooms, the partners chose awnings and aluminum blades type Icarus® Plano RENSON®. These awnings and the projecting sills around the whole building emphasize the horizontal line of the façade concept. Elsewhere in the building, the architects integrated windproof screens type Fixscreen® to control the sun.


And finally, in Mouscron, Van Oost architects designed a construction and renovation project which was implemented in several phases. The Centre Hospitalier in Mouscron is a hospital of over 1,000 employees, to which about 10,000 patients are admitted annually. The management aims for perfection and innovation in all areas. The comfort and well-being of patients, visitors and staff are always central. Hence the choice for the pursuit of a healthy indoor climate thanks to the Healthcare Concept® RENSON®.

centre hospitalier de moescron 11

Window vents type THM90 and AR75 provide good air quality in the rooms and the operating theater, but also in the emergency room, dialysis room and the logistical and technical areas. These vents take care of the supply of fresh air, while the extraction of contaminated air takes place in the bathroom and is connected to a central extraction system. These vents were placed either horizontally on the glass or vertically integrated into the doors behind the grilles for ventilative cooling. The contractor also placed beside each window a RENSON® louvre panel type 432 with high airflow to let in greater flows of fresh, cool air for a natural cooling of the building.

centre hospitalier de moescron 13_grote glasvlakte met zonwering met alu lamellen

Because of the many glass windows, management and architect were forced to provide sun protection. To the west and south sides shading systems with fixed aluminum blades type Icarus® 200 Quickfix® were chosen. The rooms were then provided with additional screens, so that here too the effect of the sun on hot days could be limited. During the first phase, the architect and the builder opted for ordinary screens, while for the renovation of the existing building, wind-resistant screens type RENSON® Fixscreen®were deliberately chosen.