At the end of April 2022, hospitals and other healthcare designers were tasked with creating a greener healthcare design to help combat climate change. An article by Healthcare Design magazine has outlined some of the things that healthcare professionals and designers can do to help this growing issue. Below are the major points from the article, if you would like to read the full article click here.
Decarbonization in Healthcare Design
One of the most obvious tools for decarbonization in healthcare is through energy conservation and efficiency— reducing operational energy use from fossil fuel-derived sources will reduce carbon dioxide emissions. (Source)
Many of these measures are well known; they simply must be applied with greater rigor and breadth. For example, they include:
- well insulated and constructed building envelopes, particularly the reduction of glass as a wall material
- integration of high-efficiency lighting
- improved control of HVAC systems by reducing airflow during low occupancy/off-hours
Another decarbonization strategy is using on-site renewable energy systems to reduce the amount of fossil fuel-generated energy from utilities; however, very few healthcare buildings have enough space to produce all their energy on-site. These renewable energy systems can produce electricity through photovoltaic panels, and solar thermal collectors can produce hot water for both heating and domestic use. (Source)
Renewable Energy- Climate Change
Another decarbonization pathway exists through reducing the carbon emissions associated with electric utility plant operation. This means moving away from the use of fossil fuels to generate electricity. This can include utility-scale renewable energy, such as wind or solar electricity, replacing fossil fuel power plants. As the cost of these renewable energy systems is reaching parity with fossil fuel technology, many utilities are reducing the amount of carbon dioxide emissions associated with electricity generation. (Source)
In fact, many states have enacted renewable portfolio standards, requiring the utilities under their jurisdictions to progressively increase the amount of renewable energy electricity that they generate each year, thus reducing their carbon dioxide emissions. (Source)
Many hurdles still exist in this journey to a purely clean energy grid, mostly through the application of energy storage systems to smooth out the problems with the interrupt ability of solar and wind systems. However, healthcare systems can speed this journey along by advocating for more renewable energy generation from the utility that serves their facilities. (Source)
Marie Wikoff is the creator of Wikoff Design Studio based out of Reno, Nevada. Her expertise in healthcare design has helped modernize healthcare organizations locally, regionally, and internationally, improving patient experience and outcomes. Her credentials include Evidence-Based Design Accreditation and Certification (EDAC), American Academy of Healthcare Interior Designer (CHID), the National Council of Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) and LEED AP. Contact Marie Wikoff
Source: Guttmann, Steven, et al. “How Healthcare Design Can Impact Climate Change – HCD Magazine.” HCD Magazine – Architecture & Interior Design Trends for Healthcare Facilities, 6 June 2022, https://healthcaredesignmagazine.com/trends/construction-engineering/how-healthcare-design-can-impact-climate-change/.