Cape Town center a standout for sustainable hospital operations management

Cape Town center a standout for sustainable hospital operations management

Photo courtesy of Cape Business News

A range of green technologies is making the new Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa, a model facility for sustainable hospital operations management.

A special double-skin façade and electricity-generating elevators are two of the solutions implemented that not only make for best environmentally sensitive practice, but will also contribute to cost efficiencies, reports Cape Business News.

The 16-floor hospital, which opened this month, incorporates an array of design principles and green technology elements which are aligned with global standards, setting a new standard for environmentally friendly hospital facilities in South Africa, said Dr. Richard Friedland, chief executive officer of Netcare.

One such innovation is the building's “intelligent” exterior façade, comprising an external glass skin, with a void separating it from the building's internal glass windows. This means that together the internal glass windows and the exterior of the building act as a double skin, offering outstanding insulation to the interior hospital environment.

The void within the two walls can be ventilated when the building needs to be cooled down, or closed to warm it up by means of louvers positioned between the two skins on roof level, which can either be opened or closed.

"The façade is also connected to wind driven extractors and motorized dampers which, in turn, are connected to the building management system. An intelligent and automatically controlled insulation layer enhances the energy efficient heating, cooling and ventilation technology installed in the building," Friedland said.

Netcare's environmental sustainability manager, Johan Durand, said that in addition to the double skin, attention has also been paid to other insulation aspects of the building. Special double solar glazing, for example, has been used for the windows and façade, and the concrete roofs have been carefully insulated to international specifications. In addition, single solar glazing was fitted for the skylights.

Energy savings

The intelligent façade is expected to save Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital some 105 000 kilowatt hours annually in energy.

The heating ventilation and air conditioning system that serves the new hospital is based on a rational design that exceeds South African national building regulations and is based on an advanced standard as recommended and applied by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). This allows for better filtration of air to further improve infection prevention and control, while offering greater energy efficiency. Further efficiencies will be achieved through using two water-cooled chillers housed on the roof.

Integrated building management system

A building management system (BMS) works to reduce the building's cooling and heating requirements by means of a centralized control of all services within the hospital.

The BMS system also measures the air temperature along sections of the intelligent façade and controls the motorized dampers to either extract or trap warm air depending on climatic conditions outside. The facility's heating, ventilation and air conditioning system services the internal environment through variable air volume systems. These can be ramped up or down depending on the specific requirements of each individual ward.

The piping system has been designed in such a way that domestic hot water can be circulated throughout the entire building, thereby reducing wastage due to hot water being available close to the points of use. The domestic hot water integration with the air conditioning is expected to save 34,300 kilowatt hours annually.

Grey water harvesting and re-use

The hospital is also equipped with a sophisticated grey water harvesting system, which channels waste water from the renal dialysis filtration plant and the autoclaves used to steam sterilize medical equipment, to the ablution facilities. "Grey water harvesting and re-use is expected to save about 3,204 kiloliters of water a year, " Durand said. "In addition, we have fitted low-flow showerheads, which use half of the water of a conventional shower, and aerator equipped taps on all hand washbasins to reduce water usage. Where these fittings have been used in other Netcare hospitals, they have achieved significant water savings."

Lighting efficiencies

The hospital's lighting was not only selected for its aesthetic appeal, but also its efficiency and low cost of maintenance. There is a mix of florescent and LED lighting, resulting in a 40 percent reduction in energy consumption on lighting.

Supplying the electricity to the facility are two high efficiency dry type transformers, which are situated on the roof of the building and will contribute to electrical cost saving.

"Also helping to reduce future energy costs is the mechanism underpinning the facility's regenerative power lifts, whereby the force of gravity is allowed to do the work when the lift is descending, and the motors act as generators, supplying the energy into a power bank for utilization when the lifts go up."

Friedland said that these features contribute to the environmental sustainability of the hospital and, by extension, help protect the country's energy resources.

“Netcare's sustainability strategy aims not only to enhance the robust financial performance of the group into the future, but also to help ensure the future of the South African environment,” Friedland said. “The group's impact in the environmental arena has shown that these two objectives are not mutually exclusive."

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