Creating sustainable healthcare designs to reduce carbon footprint
Almost 10% of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States come from the healthcare sector, with about 1/3 of those emissions coming from hospitals. With around the clock operations and high air change requirements, hospitals are extremely energy intensive facilities.
Even with these challenges, there are a lot of opportunities within sustainable healthcare design to improve the facility through thoughtful design. With any building type is it important to discuss sustainability goals at the onset of a project, in order to have the greatest impact. During early design, strategies are reviewed related to landscaping, energy and water reduction, material use, indoor environmental quality and occupant wellness.
The ultimate goal with a sustainable building is to consume less. This often starts by focusing on energy, especially because energy efficiency strategies typically have a high ROI and in the long-term can save health systems money. We start to tackle energy use by right sizing the building (less square footage = less space to heat and cool) and then optimizing the building envelope by improving insulation and glazing. Once the building is optimized, we shift the focus to selecting efficient building systems (HVAC, lighting, water heating) and discuss alternative energy sources. Investigating clean and renewable sources has the added advantage of independence from the grid, in the event of a natural disaster. Lastly, having the building commissioned can confirm that the building is performing as it was designed.
Healthcare is a unique market and the decisions made during the design of facilities directly impact staff satisfaction and patient outcomes. At EUA, we believe in the value of sustainable design and have dedicated sustainability specialists that can guide healthcare systems in creating more sustainable facilities throughout the design process.