Energy management in healthcare establishments: a priority and solutions
Managing energy consumption is one of the greatest challenges of our time. Healthcare and medico-social establishments are major consumers of energy, and they too must contend with this issue. To this end, various solutions are available, in relation both to the design of new facilities and the renovation and optimisation of existing buildings.
A necessity for healthcare establishments
Over and above the standards and regulations already in place (e.g. diagnostics), energy management provides a response to a three-fold need for healthcare establishments:
- To reduce their environmental impact so as to achieve the environmental objectives set by the “Grenelle 2” agreement for 2020;
- To reduce spending on energy, within a challenging economic climate;
- To comply with new requirements in terms of treatment and care plans.
Electricity consumption and temperature control
To meet these requirements, the first step is to identify the energy savings that can easily be made by paying attention to use, maintenance and even purchasing. But what does this mean? “Today, construction companies look in particular for solutions that enable savings in terms of electricity consumption and temperature control,” explains Renaud Alardin, architect and founder of R2A. “In a hospital, for example, the temperature of certain areas, such as operating theatres, is crucial. The aim is thus to be more efficient and consume as little energy as possible, while complying with hygiene requirements, such as contamination issues. To achieve this, we now have a multitude of innovative solutions at our disposal.”
Numerous innovative solutions available
One such solution, in terms of renovation, is hypervision. This consists of collating, via a single access point, all data relating to the energy efficiency of all the components of a building, monitoring of consumption of fluids, optimising energy efficiency management, continuous monitoring of consumption through regular reviews to check for and rectify any overconsumption, the production of renewable energies (e.g. installation of photovoltaic panels) and the renovation of heating, hot water, ventilation and air conditioning systems, etc. These are technical solutions to which, naturally, human elements must also be added (training for staff, raising awareness among patients, and so on).
Combining a tight budget with long-lasting and robust solutions
In terms of building design, in particular, the solution lies notably in the use of materials with a low environmental impact. “The challenge we face today is to remain within a tight budget, while achieving a certain level of technical robustness,” summarises Renaud Alardin. “So-called ecological materials can sometimes appear to be more fragile.
We have to find long-lasting and robust solutions, in particular for floors. Healthcare establishments also pay great attention to light fixtures and lighting, often using LEDs. The management of the water and plumbing network is also a key issue, so as to provide a good flow rate while consuming less, and ensuring safety and preventing thermal shocks. Giving precedence to local solutions when sourcing materials and energy production is a good way of ensuring better management.”
Adapting to changes in the organisation of care
Last, but by no means least, of the constraints that must be taken into account is the fact that energy management must be in keeping with a new approach to care management. “A healthcare establishment is in a state of constant change,” says Renaud Alardin. “With the growth of outpatient services, spaces must be adaptable, without this resulting in increased energy consumption. With this need for adaptability in mind, we would favour VOC-free paints, for example, which limit the release of toxic chemicals.”
These and other solutions to prepare for and support the hospitals of the future will be showcased at the forthcoming Paris Healthcare Week, notably in the exhibition area dedicated to buildings and technical platforms.
Key energy consumption figures for the sector
- 5 kWh consumed per day of theoretical activity in the sector.
- France’s 6,000 or so healthcare establishments and 30,000 medico-social facilities account for 2% of the country’s energy consumption (i.e. 21.5 TWh).
- Heating and air conditioning accounts for 60% of the total energy consumption of hospitals and clinics.
Sources: ADEME (French agency for the environment and energy management), ANAP (French agency providing energy efficiency support to the medical sector) – Observatory for sustainable development in healthcare 2017