Hospital structures never go to sleep. They constantly use electricity, 365 days a year, nonstop. It is unaffordable for departments like operating rooms and intensive care units to have their HVAC system lose electricity even briefly. Nearly 4% of a hospital’s overall revenue goes toward paying its energy expenditures. Making air conditioning systems more energy-efficient is the first step in going green because it accounts for about 60% of all energy costs.
Understanding how environmental stewardship affects the mission and margins is crucial. Hospitals use of harmful chemicals, pollution, and resource use all have an impact on the environment. In the end, these outputs have a negative impact on the populations that hospitals are there to help.
Going green helps to reduce environmental issues while also lowering costs and enhancing patient safety.
Hospitals are Energy Guzzlers
Hospital buildings never sleep. They consume non-stop electricity 24 hours, 365 days a year. Departments like intensive care units and operating rooms cannot afford to have their HVAC system run out of power even for a moment. Energy bills comprise almost 4 per cent of the total revenue of any hospital. Approximately 60 per cent of the energy costs come from air-conditioning, hence the first step towards moving green is to make the air-conditioning systems energy-efficient.
The regular air-conditioning systems can be replaced with gas-based vapour absorption systems, screw chillers or other high technology systems which are more energy efficient and less expensive. Depending upon the facility size and requirements, the air-conditioning systems must be selected.
Hospitals can also move to LED lights and quality cables/ switches which cut operational cost in the long-run. Smart or automated lighting systems is another solution that can be adopted. Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital in Mumbai use such motion sensors in certain areas such as public toilets and staircases where the lights switch on and off based on the motion of individuals.
Similarly, there are alternatives for water, building materials and waste management systems, which if incorporated rightly, will help hospitals embrace the green movement.
Planning, Designing & Management
Going green is not limited to energy efficiency alone. Sustainability as a concept needs to be incorporated from the very start i.e. planning & designing of the hospital. Factoring in the layout and orientation of the building to cut hash sunlight and harness the soft sunlight goes miles in conserving energy.
Design elements like aluminium fins along the facade not only cuts the harsh sunlight, it also can direct the prevailing wind into the facility. Skylight features can incorporate parking, lobby and waiting areas to reduce dependence on artificial lighting.
Good ventilation is another vital requirement in hospitals which helps in energy cutting as well as maintaining good indoor air quality (IAQ). In case of hospitals, an optimal IAQ protects patients and healthcare workers against hospital-acquired infections (HAI) and occupational diseases.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India is already constructing 6 new AIIMS keeping sustainability at the centre of design. In order to reduce energy consumption, all the AIIMS buildings will have ECBC compliant building envelopes, efficient artificial lighting systems and HVAC systems. With respect to water efficiency, all AIIMS are being fitted with low-flow fixtures to reduce water consumption, which reduces the water consumption.
In addition, the Government could launch an initiative to incentivise hospitals to go green. They could offer subsidies, FSI or other benefits to hospitals that are opting for sustainable solutions.
If hospitals can implement sustainable solutions such as the above, we will be able to reduce carbon footprints by a significant amount and contribute towards building a greener environment.