Low Carbon Hospitals – an inspiring story from Norway

Original post published 26 of May 2011

Last week I went on a fascinating trip to Oslo for a meeting with the Low Carbon Building – Healthcare network. We visited the New Akershus University Hospital which in 2009 won the Building Better Healthcare Award for Best International Design. (Don’t miss this year’s awards in London, 10th November.)

Akershus University Hospital: A state of the art Low Carbon Hospital

The Low Carbon Building network has just launched a State of the Art report on Low Carbon Buildings in the Health Care Sector.

This inspiring hospital is an outstanding example of what modern designs can achieve. Arild Mathiesen from the Ahus Hospital told the story from the development plans in 1995 until the fully operational building in March 2011.

The internal, open boulevard has hairdresser, priest, library, café and pharmacy – the aim is to make admission as secure and as close to the patient’s normal life as possible. Daylight makes the gives a welcoming, secure feeling the use of wood helps create an atmosphere of safety and belonging.

Central Boulevard

The most ambitious goal was to have 40% of energy consumption generated from renewable sources. For this a bedrock plant had been envisaged. 228 wells have been drilled, each approximately 200 meters. The heat and cooling energy is saved or picked up from the wells and pumped to the technical plant where heat pumps generate the correct temperatures. The hospital is divided into energy blocks so detailed analyses of usages is measurable.

There are several energy saving measures in place, such as the recovery of residual energy from exhaust ventilation, the energy optimisation of the ventilation system, water reducing nozzles on all taps, shading devices on windows facing south and west and low temperature for radiators for maximum utilization of the heat pump to name a few. There are 140 control cabinets, with around 40,000 points and 3,000 rooms that can be individually temperature controlled, and includes a light control via interface to DALI. The hospital makes use of locally sourced materials, and geo-thermal energy to provide 85% of the hospital’s heating and more than 40% of the total energy consumption. Short distances between functions, a clear organisation and extensive use of modern technology including robotics give staff more time for patients.

We were all bowled over by this inspiring place

We were all bowled over by this inspiring place

Another intriguing presentation came from Lars Abrahamsen who talked about smarter building processes in theSt. Olavs Hospitals in Trondheim. Currently under construction, their aim is to build the first passive house, energy class A standard hospital in Europe. They are using an integrated concurrent engineering process where they bring all contractors, suppliers and the owner together. 20% of the delivery in not specified. Cost is only 50% of the award criteria, competency and implementation ability make up the other 50%. Lars believes that the owner must create the basis for beneficial processes. Collaboration contracts are a good tool for public builders, give early access to specialists and give quick answers to upcoming challenges and create an ownership to the solutions. I am keen to see what will be accomplished.

It would also be very interesting to make a comparison of other new hospitals currently under construction, such as New Karolinska Hospital in Stockholm and the New North Hospital in Vienna to name but a few. Which are the best solutions? What can we learn from these innovative projects? The challenges for all hospitals is to be prepared for future demands: responding to an aging population, changing treatment solutions while still being cost effective and creating energy saving buildings – a tall order for managers and healthcare staff alike!

Let's be inspired by all the active cyclists in Oslo!

The Low Carbon Building network has just launched aState of the Art report on Low Carbon Buildings in the Health Care Sector. This forward thinking report includes gives some examples of our European members (KAV KAGesAustria, Stockholm County Council Sweden) but has also many other examples that I have not been able to mention here. I highly recommend reading it.
The European Health Property Network (EuHPN) and LCB-HEALTHCARE are organising a joint conference in 12-14 October 2011 in Bologna, so this should be the next stop for all interested in planning and designing healthcare buildings. Maybe we will see each other in there.

/Anja Leetz, Director of HCWH Europe

Original Blog Post