Healing and environmental principles entrenched in Netcare Pinehaven Hospital

The design principles of Netcare’s Pinehaven Hospital, on Johannesburg’s West Rand, integrate patient comfort and sustainability to promote healthcare outcomes while reducing the environmental footprint of this 100-bed state-of-the-art facility.

“When Netcare Pinehaven Hospital was in the planning stages, we opted to incorporate elements that would not only create an ideal healing environment for patients, but also save water and power as part of our collective responsibility to make a positive contribution to conserving these resources,” says managing director of Netcare’s hospital division, Jacques du Plessis.

The hospital’s concrete roof is insulated and coated with reflective paint to reduce the amount of heat lost or gained in the building to contribute to energy savings. Furthermore, the insulation and glazing material used throughout was carefully chosen to further minimise energy consumption in conjunction with the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, as well as for optimal thermal performance and also to absorb noise, thereby contributing to a more serene environment.

The hospital boasts a HVAC system, which is integrated with the domestic hot water generation plant, whereby waste heat is recovered from the air conditioning plant and utilised for heating water. All hot water storage vessels are, however, fitted with electrical heating elements for backup.

The HVAC system is designed in such a way that each department produces and stores its own domestic hot water locally, thus minimising the amount of heat lost in the hot water reticulation system. The air-cooled HVAC system, as opposed to a water-cooled system, also reduces water consumption.

Theatre air handling units are integrated with the HVAC system, so that the maximum amount of waste heat is recycled for the production of domestic hot water. Theatres indirectly produce hot water for their own use, as well as for the kitchen, central sterile services department and other areas that consume large amounts of hot water daily. Furthermore, the theatres’ HVAC systems are equipped with an unoccupied mode, which is a timed control system whereby the HVAC system does not expend unnecessary energy on these areas at times when they are not in use.

“Several rooftop units, fitted with inverter type compressors, are provided for areas in the hospital that require relatively small amounts of hot water. The special heat recovery also enables heat to be exchanged between indoor units so that when one area requires cooling and another heating, heat will flow from the one area to the other with minimal electrical input,” Du Plessis explains.

All air-handling units are equipped with economy cycle systems, which monitor the outside conditions and, if favourable, will opt to use more fresh air filtered directly from outside to maintain ideal conditions inside the building without the use of additional intervention and saving on the system compressors expending additional energy to achieve the desired conditions.

Director of Netcare’s Gauteng South West region, Sandile Mbele, says that the hospital incorporates a number of water saving measures in its design.

“Water is conserved through a variety of measures including water efficient plumbing fixtures, which reduce consumption by approximately 25%, a grey water drainage system in the autoclave plant for future water harvesting, and the use of water-wise indigenous plants in the landscaping.”

Mbele notes that the hospital includes a number of features that simultaneously reduce its environmental footprint and promote patient comfort.

“Natural light is maximised to save power and, at the same time, create an atmosphere which is conducive to healing. Natural lighting plays an important role in maintaining people’s circadian rhythm, which controls the cycle of sleeping and wakefulness. Natural light therefore helps to promote quality rest which, in turn, helps the body to heal. Larger windows integrate the clinical environment with the outside environment. Natural products and soothing colours have also been incorporated extensively into the design.”

Atriums filled with plant life enhance natural ventilation by channelling warmer air to higher zones and then out of the building, thereby reducing the need for air-conditioning. The atriums, along with the gardens between ward blocks, also provide peaceful spaces within the hospital for staff, patients and visitors to connect with nature.

In terms of lighting, interior artificial lights are high efficiency linear T5 fluorescent luminaires and LED (light-emitting diode) down lighters, which make for an average energy efficiency of 7.07 Watts per square metre. Lighting in the wards can be dimmed for night lighting, which further decreases energy consumption.

Exterior lighting in the parking areas uses LED post top luminaires while the building façade lighting is achieved using high efficiency compact fluorescent lights. All exterior lighting is controlled with photocells so that they only come on when natural light levels are low.

Power factor correction panels have been installed on the incoming supply, consisting of two 100 Kilovolt-amperes (kVA) reactive banks, which ensures that the power factor is maintained as close to unity as possible and reduce the reactive power impact of the installation.

“Design, engineering and operational practices currently minimise waste through recycling protocols, as well as improved water and energy conservation practices. Indoor air quality is elevated by eliminating toxic materials and minimising harsh cleaning agents. Furthermore, the structural, spatial and systems planning of Netcare Pinehaven Hospital will reduce the impact of future expansions,” Du Plessis explains.

“Taken together these environmentally sound design features of Netcare Pinehaven Hospital should reduce the carbon footprint by as much as 690 Tonnes per annum, relative to what it would have been if these features were not incorporated. This emphasises the point that cumulatively these measures can make an appreciable difference to our environment,” Du Plessis concluded.

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