“Hospitals that are better for people and our planet”, Ravideep Singh, Associate Director, Creative Designer Architects.
Modern-day public buildings require an uninterrupted energy supply and immense amounts of natural resources, such as water. Hospital buildings, in particular, require a large amount of these supplies due to constant habitation. However, with the rise of general awareness about environmental sustainability, the need to efficiently use energy and other resources has also grown. Healthcare design follows suit by erecting green building healthcare infrastructure that is environmentally friendly and helps curb infections through various design strategies. So, what goes into making healthcare infrastructure green?
Sustainability and Indian Healthcare Infrastructure
Typically, hospitals in India have been designed and built to focus solely on functionality, ignoring other aspects that affect the buildings in the long term. However, the past decade has witnessed a sea change in the outlook of healthcare providers, architects, and patients. Stakeholders have begun to acknowledge the importance of sustainable design and biophilia, its impact on human health, and the significant reductions observed in the otherwise massive operating costs during a building’s life cycle.
The Indian population and its morbidity continue to grow rapidly, intensifying the already existing lacuna in quality healthcare infrastructure. Existing hospitals are overburdened while needing more quality care delivery than patients deserve. Therefore, healthcare designers are emphasising sustainability and human health, which is gaining traction from the standpoint of code compliance and as a feature that building occupants need to achieve larger organisational goals. Green infrastructure enables salutogenic and environmentally sustainable spaces, allowing for greater ecological harmony and healthier built environments.
Using a similar approach, our projects, such as AIIMS Guwahati and Max Super Specialty Hospital, Vaishali, employ multiple facets of sustainability from the standpoint of retaining existing ecology and optimising energy use while harmonising user experience.
Components of Green Healthcare Infrastructure
Due to their high degree of electro-mechanical and plumbing prerequisites, hospitals are one of the most energy-intensive building types. Typically, green healthcare infrastructure includes everything from highly efficient passive designs that minimise the use of mechanical equipment for heating and cooling to environments that integrate biophilia to foster healing. In a nutshell, green healthcare entails efficiency in design and operation while creating environments that foster well-being.
Biophilia and healthcare have vast synergy. Incorporating biophilia into healthcare environments, particularly in flora and fauna, nature artwork and imagery, natural views, abundant daylight, therapeutic healing gardens, and other manifestations of nature, has positively impacted patient experience, recovery rates, staff satisfaction, etc. It positively impacts all end-users and the environment at large.
Green Building Materials
Building materials can be significant drivers in making a building sustainable. At CDA, we approach this by including materials that have minimal impact on the environment (embodied and operational energy) and materials that positively impact occupants’ health and well-being. Typically, we use biodegradable and recyclable materials, such as rubber and composite wood, along with finishing materials that are locally sourced and have low VOC content. These materials are also non-emitting and highly cleanable, making them popular choices for use in green hospital design.
Still in its nascent stage, green healthcare infrastructure is gradually being welcomed with open arms by the stakeholders of the Indian healthcare industry. With its bounty of better healing environments and energy-efficient operations, it will soon be a common sight for hospital campuses to become greener and more sustainable.
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