Environment-conscious hospitals: Ways to ‘go green’ this summer
The theme for this year’s World Environment Day falling on June 5 is –‘Green Economy: Does it include you? ’ Hospitals being the biggest guzzlers of energy, consumers of resources and generators of waste, must do everything to remain eco friendly, reduce carbon footprint and be sustainable so as to be part of the green economy.
Green architecture promotes good environment and health, reduces carbon footprint and HAIs, and aids in speedy recovery and shorter hospital stays, resulting in higher turnover of beds, thus increasing profits. Though initially expensive by up to 5 per cent, green design results in life cycle savings of 20 per cent of the construction and operational costs with payback period of
Recommended here are ten initiatives for going green that each hospital must consider and adopt to promote health of its occupants and community at large while operating economically and efficiently.
1. Invest in green building design: It should be responsive to local climate conditions, provides efficient lighting systems, HVAC fixtures, and optimised for reduced energy and resource demands throughout the life of the building. Use integrated design practices and building materials that are eco friendly, non toxic and preferably bio-based.
2. Protect: Protect the immediate health of building occupants affected by the quality of the indoor air, which in turn is dependent upon physical and mechanical design (such as ventilation and location of wastes), the choice of building materials, the management of construction emissions, building operations and maintenance .
3. Conserve water: Use high performance fixtures and equipment, optimising the use of water in cooling towers, by switching to recycled water and rain water harvesting. Plantations that are native to the place and can resist natural weather conditions should be encouraged.
4. Invest in clean, renewable energy: Optimal use of natural light, solar heaters, and passive solar heating/cooling systems depending on the weather. Carry out regular energy audits. Consider ways to improve hospital energy consumption and costs through efficiency and conservation measures, such as by energy efficient chillers, replacing the bulbs with CFLs, turning off the lights, air conditioners, appliances and computers when not in use so as to minimise your carbon foot print.
5. Use alternative fuels for hospital vehicle fleets: Encourage walking and cycling to the facility; promote staff, patient and community use of public transport; site health-care buildings to minimise the need for staff and patient transportation.
6. Reduce, re-use and recycle waste: Employ alternatives to waste incineration such as vermi composting. Learn about recycling opportunities such as carton boxes, glass and one-side printed paper, plastic waste after shredding, incinerator ash for brick fabrication; domestic waste and electronic items.
7. Say ‘NO’: Say NO to use of plastic bags, PVC,VOCs, ozone-depleting materials, mercury containing medical devices, leaded paint; chemicals like xylene, formalin, environmental tobacco hazard; or bioaccumulative compounds, carcinogens, endocrine disruptors or any other toxic materials.
8. Blend nature into design: By developing horticulture, plants and landscaping outdoors; and elements like waterfalls, fountains, appropriate colors, feng shui paintings and aquariums/solariums in lobbies and patient area to promote soothing and healing environment.
9. Reduce noise: A major source of stress emanating out of staff conversations, alarms and communication systems, patients crying/coughing, etc must be reduced by installing sound attenuation building materials and more single patient rooms.
10. As a framework for green building design, maintenance and operations, follow the best practices, principles and guidelines given in ASHRE and Green Guide for Healthcare, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) or TERI’s Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA) rating systems.
Gp Capt (Dr) Sanjeev Sood, Hospital and Health, Systems Administrator, Air Force Hospital, Chandigarh.