Low energy – low carbon hospitals in Sweden

Posted on: November 12th, 2015 by matthew_bacon

It is perhaps ironic that hospitals as caring institutions, are one of the most energy intensive building types, yet have the greatest potential to do harm to the environment. It is lamentable too, that the overall hospital energy performance of hospitals has hardly changed in two decades. This is why fundamental change to hospital planning and engineering design is required. The Conclude Consultancy are operating at the forefront of that change and in this regard we can announce that we are to be working in Sweden with the Gothenburg regional administration on a pilot project for a new 30,000m2 women’s hospital – focused on achieving a new benchmark in In-use energy consumption.

The administration recognises that control of In-use energy consumption is a major challenge in driving for Near to Zero Energy Buildings (NZEB’s). This is a definition under the European Building Performance Directive that requires all new public buildings to achieve near to zero energy consumption from 2018 onwards.  The challenge is made all the more difficult because a European Union (EU) study carried out in 2012/13 identified that the growth of In-use energy in buildings has effectively nullified all gains made through improved thermal and engineering systems performance. This was referred to as the ‘activity effect‘.  In other words it is the growth in electrical energy consumption caused by the building occupants activities that has largely led to this situation.

In Sweden, which has one of the most advanced NZEB strategies in the EU, they have progressively reduced thermal energy consumption to amongst the best in the EU.  They now recognise the need to focus on In-use electrical energy consumption and to make a substantial impact on the ‘activity effect‘. This is why the Gothenburg administration has decided to engage with Conclude, who will guide them to achieving Near to Zero Energy Hospitals performance.  Conclude will be using their unique OCCUPANCY ANALYTICS ™ and Whole Facility Energy Modelling methods to inform the optimised planning and design of engineering systems. Working with the clinical leadership team, Conclude will be identifying the major causes of energy consumption associated with each clinical pathway for the different types of patient using the services of the hospital. Our unique methods provide detailed insights as to the operational practices that can be streamlined to drive down In-use energy consumption.

Readers of this article might ask the obvious question – “well doesn’t it stand to reason that there has been a growth in hospital energy consumption – after all with all the additional equipment and people is it not inevitable?’  Of course this is a reasonable point – that is until one discovers just how much energy is wasted and that clinicans have very poor understanding of why and when this situation arises.  This is the work of Conclude: To analyse, to inform, and then support better decision making in the pursuit of optimised energy performance.  The opportunity is to reduce In-use energy consumption between 30- 50% and yet improve hospital capacity by making it more efficient AND improve the patient experience at the same time!  These are the possible win – wins of hospital operations today – drive down the cost of operation and drive up service performance.

Please do contact us through the contact form should you wish to learn more.