Canadian Consulting Engineer

Rehabilitation of the Centre hospitalier Honor-Mercier

October 1, 2007
By Canadian Consulting Engineer

In 2003, the Centre hospitalier Honor-Mercier in Saint Hyacinthe, east of Montreal in Quebec, was suffering from serious aspergillus contamination. The contamination was due to the spread of mildew w...

In 2003, the Centre hospitalier Honor-Mercier in Saint Hyacinthe, east of Montreal in Quebec, was suffering from serious aspergillus contamination. The contamination was due to the spread of mildew within the walls of the 12-storey hospital, caused by a deficient building envelope. The acute care facility, which was originally built in 1970, had to be decontaminated and quickly restored in order to solve what was a major public health problem.

DESSAU was commissioned by the Corporation d’hbergement du Qubec to carry out the engineering works on the hospital. Dessau’s work involved mechanical and electrical engineering for both phase 1 and 2, and structural and civil engineering for Phase 2.

The phase 1 expansion required 300 beds from the main building to be temporarily relocated in the adjacent St-Charles hospital that was built in 1929 and had not been in service since the 1990s. Major upgrading work was necessary to fully restore this old building.

Meanwhile, 5,575 square metres of temporary building had to be provided on the site for the ambulatory services, emergency, oncology and external clinics, and food services.

In phase 2, the rehabilitation of the Honor-Mercier building required that the building’s outside envelope be completely reconstructed. (A specially trained sniffer dog was used to detect the presence of aspergillus within the walls.) The interior, on a 2.5 metre width around the entire perimeter, also had to be demolished and stripped to the structure. All the contaminated ventilation systems had to be replaced. The project also included a new 8,350-sq.m addition to the main building.

All the decontamination and rehabilitation works had to be completed while keeping hospital services operational.

Three dimensional software for mechanical-electrical rooms

To avoid additional delays and costs caused at the work site, Dessau used the Autodesk Building Systems application to create three-dimensional models of all the mechanical and electrical rooms. This approach represents an important step forward in the methods and design tools used in building engineering.

Because they require a high rate of air changes per hour and have a large quantity of medical equipment, health centres are among the most energy demanding buildings. Since this project called for a complete rebuilding of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems of the health centre, Dessau used the opportunity to completely revise the systems using energy efficient measures and sustainability principles. The result is a reduction in energy use of up to $1 million annually, and a saving of 3,500 tons a year in greenhouse gas emissions.

The energy efficiency measures included enthalpy wheels and run-around coils which recover heat from exhaust air, a low temperature heating loop, heat recovery chillers, high efficiency boilers and efficient lighting systems. A zoning strategy based on different orientations and needs also helped in reducing building loads.

The design team created a computer model of the building and its electromechanical systems using EE4 and DOE2.1e simulations to determine the most favourable design. According to the Canada Building Incentive Program evaluation of Natural Resources Canada, the new building extension will have a 48% energy consumption reduction. Its performance meant that the project qualified for major incentives from the federal and provincial governments, as well as from energy suppliers Hydro-Qubec and Gaz Mtro.

Keeping the hospital running during the work

Following an order from the Quebec Public Health director, the project had to be completed on a fast track. There were interdisciplinary professional teams to be coordinated, as well as the logistics involved in moving all medical equipment.

Most of the areas in the Honor-Mercier hospital were at high risk for patients who had a low immune system. To contain and fight contamination was a major challenge because it required maintaining negative and positive pressures at all times between the working areas and the decontaminated ones.

More than 30 construction lots were necessary, as well as 648 drawings from different fields. The total project cost was $124 million, of which $70 million was dedicated to the civil, structural, mechanical and electrical engineering. Following its satisfactory completion, the project has won awards from the Association des ingnieurs-conseils du Qubec and an ASHRAE Technology Award 2007.CCE

Name of project: Rehabilitation of the Centre hospitalier Honor-Mercier

Award-winning firm: DESSAU, Montreal (Frdric Sauriol, ing., Laurier Nichols, ing., Luc Dumais, ing., Annie Lefebvre, ing., Rejean Blais, ing., Daniel Dub, ing., Oanh Nguyen, ing., Simon Pelletier, ing., Jean Molina, ing., Marco Freitas, ing.)

Role of award-winning firm: mechanical, electrical (Phase 1 & 2), structural & civil engineering (Phase 2)

Client: Corporation d’hbergement du Qubec

Owner: Centre de sant et de services sociaux Richelieu-Yamaska

Construction manager: Decarel/EBC

Architects (Phase 1): Birtz Bastien/ Jodoin Lamarre Pratte/Goyette Tardif

Structural engineer (Phase 1): Pasquin St-Jean

Architects (Phase 2): Provencher Roy/Yelle Maill


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