Custom Environmental Control Solutions: Isolation Room Edition

Isolation rooms. Talk about intricate HVAC systems!

Custom environmental control solutions take a wide range of knowledge and skills due to a multitude of factors that go into each and every one. And when it comes to isolation rooms, it is no different. So much is dependent on the safety and health of everyone who enters and spends time in such a space! So what exactly makes up an isolation room? Let’s take a deep dive into what goes into the makeup and upkeep of isolation rooms in healthcare facilities.

What type of isolation room are you building and solving for?

The three major isolation room types that you’ll be charged with building or bringing up to code in a healthcare facility setting are typically: standard rooms and positive and negative pressure rooms. All have differing levels of regulations, requirements, and restrictions. Some of which are:
• Standard rooms: typically do not require specialized systems but do help with airflow control, ventilation, and the prevention of disease via transmission through air
• Positive pressure rooms: typically need HEPA filters, outdoor air systems that meet local and federal guidelines and requirements, and can share air systems with the buildings where applicable
• Negative pressure rooms: typically need their own exhaust and supply system, HEPA filtration, emergency power, and emergency stops

But finding out what type of isolation room is needed and its ACH is the first step in tackling each!


Due to the criticalness of its function, one of the key areas to first focus on should be ACH or air changes per hour. When this number is skewed, there is an increase in risk regarding cross-contamination for patients, staff, and everyone in between. So how do you calculate such an important aspect?

Calculating ACH

In order to calculate ACH, you must multiply the incoming/supply air flow rate (Q) in units of cubic feet per minute (CFM) by 60 minutes per hour, and then divide that number by the volume of the room.

CDC guidelines state that “…an airflow rate of 6-12 ACH (6 ACH for existing structures, 12 ACH for new construction or renovation)…” must exist for all isolation rooms within healthcare facilities.

Well, what else is needed for isolation rooms?

Once ACH is calculated and built out, there are several other things that must be attended to: temperature control, pressure control, and any other extra controls that certain isolation rooms may require. Extra controls could be added measures such as UV disinfection for ducts and filters or emergency shutdown controls due to any type of sensors that could be installed for monitoring purposes.

All of these considerations must go into the entire makeup of a successful isolation room. It is not just one thing that makes an isolation room safe and successful but rather multiple variables working together correctly.

If you have an upcoming healthcare facility project or retrofit call Kele today and we’ll help walk you through it from start to finish so you can be sure you’re covered no matter what! You can also problem-solve with us via our chat option online at—we’re here to help!

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