Sustainable MEP Design Strategies for Green Hospital Buildings
Design is inherent in all that is created, but then, it’s much more. It is an amalgamation of functionality, aesthetics and popularity. And right now, sustainability is the buzz word, the cool kid on the block. Sustainable design is popular for all the right reasons and in all the right places, even hospitals. An eco-friendly, energy-efficient, green hospital showcases how to protect the environment while saving lives.
So, what does that entail?
The design and construction of sustainable healthcare institutes focuses on reducing carbon dioxide levels in hospitals while ensuring the safety of patients and medical staff. When more energy is consumed in a hospital, more toxic waste is released into the environment, resulting in potential hazards to human and other biological life forms.
Compared to other commercial buildings of the same size, hospitals use greater resources and generate more waste materials. According to studies, healthcare facilities in the US use more than 315 gallons of water per bed daily and consume 103.600 Btu of natural gas per square foot every year. Typically, 65% of a hospital’s energy consumption involves lighting, water heating and space heating or cooling.
Thus, it is vital that healthcare facilities adopt green design, sustainable concepts and measures to reduce environmental impact, save operational costs and improve energy efficiency. Sustainability design for hospitals will thus require a bouquet of quality sustainable MEP design, such as plumbing system design, mechanical engineering plumbing design and fire protection system design.
What are some of the green initiatives adopted for hospitals?
Constructing green hospitals necessitates the implementation of specific tools and processes for an eco-friendly and sustainable space, enabled by accurate mechanical 3D modelling services, thermal load calculation, duct design for HVAC systems and HVAC heat load calculations.
Hospital LEED Certification
Hospitals with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification ensure that they are adhering to green construction standards.
Green Hospital Construction Process
Key features in the construction of a green hospital include:
- Interiors that receive sufficient daylight and ventilation
- A green roof
- Green materials for construction
- Use of energy-efficient systems
Hospital rooms can be designed to receive sunshine from suitable directions, depending on site geography to heat rooms in cold countries and cool rooms in warm countries. This way, rooms can be kept at optimum temperatures in an energy-efficient manner, without additional cooling or heating systems. Large windows will allow sufficient light to enter the building and reduce the need for electric lights during the day. Sunlight will also promote healing ability and lift patient moods. Additional features, such as skylights, mirrors and courtyards will allow the entry of natural light into the building.
Green on Top
A green roof can be accommodated on hospital buildings, as they are typically large areas. Green roofs enable the exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen, keep roofs cool and induce a sense of calm in visitors and patients. Implementing renewable energy sources, such as solar panels and geothermal systems, further enhances sustainability.
Automation is another tool to help achieve sustainability and energy efficiency in a hospital facility. Well-planned systems can automate temperature control, air flow, electric lights and the water supply system. By sensing the time of day and people’s movements, an automated system can control the lighting inside, reducing power consumption and saving money.
Some types of green materials that can be used for hospital construction include:
- Rubber – renewable, environmentally friendly and does not require harsh chemicals for cleaning and maintenance.
- Local materials – sourced locally, they save transportation costs and will best suit the local environment
- Recycling – hospitals can set up a recycling unit for chemical and toxic wastes
Green hospitals will have certain core energy systems to promote sustainability, such as:
- Energy-efficient lighting systems
- Energy-efficient medical equipment
- Advanced renewable energy systems
- Promoting daylight exposure and natural ventilation
- Rainwater harvesting
- Operation of cooling towers using rainwater
- Super-insulated roofs
- High-efficiency windows
Green Hospital Measures
- For efficient energy consumption, hospitals can use energy-efficient lighting systems, medical equipment and tech-enhanced renewable energy systems.
- Improved air quality is another facet of a green hospital. Several hospitals are keen on trying out efficient ways to reduce toxins and contaminants in the air and throughout their buildings.
- Design features for a green working environment also include the use of a low-flow plumbing system, which can save up to 3 million gallons of water annually.
- Plumbing systems can also create a design that captures rainwater from the roof and uses it to irrigate the landscaping, which could save up to 180,000 gallons of water annually.
- Further, collected rainwater can help operate cooling towers used by hospitals for air conditioning systems.
- Using green design measures and green materials, hospitals can use systems that monitor carbon dioxide levels in the air, use certified wood products and use renewable materials.
- Other operational practices that hospitals can adopt include using nontoxic cleaning chemicals and microfiber mops, eliminating the use of solutions and medical devices containing mercury and using recycled paper.
- Hospitals generate lab chemical wastes of toxic solutions, paper and plastic waste, lightbulb, battery and cardboard waste, all of which can be recycled.
Why Go Green?
In addition to addressing climate change and creating sustainable communities, green design and green measures can drive economic growth.
The World Green Building Council groups the benefits of green buildings into three aspects – environmental, economic and social benefits.
In Australia, building which received the “Green star certification” by the Green Building Council of Australia contributed to a 62% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Globally, green buildings, including hospitals, have the potential to save as much as 84 gigatons of carbon dioxide by 2050 .
Economic benefits include cost savings on utility bills, lower construction costs and increased property values, with a reputed 7 percent increase in asset value compared to traditional hospital buildings.
Green hospitals contribute to the social well-being of hospital staff, as workers in green buildings report a 101 percent improvement in cognitive skills. Further, well-ventilated rooms help medical staff improve their sleep cycles.
The primary goals of healthcare facilities are promoting improved medical care and reducing administrative costs. Using green building design initiatives to construct or renovate hospitals with the right design support is both a commendable and efficient strategy to benefit patients, staff, hospitals and the environment.
To know more about sustainable MEP design . . .
XS CAD has valuable experience providing mechanical 3D modelling services and sustainability design for general contractors and consultants. Our range of services for consultants and across the world include sustainable MEP design, thermal load calculations, HVAC heat load calculations, duct design for HVAC systems, plumbing system design, mechanical engineering plumbing design and fire protection system design, creating models and drawings by using Revit BIM, AutoCAD and BIM Collaborate Pro for cloud collaboration.