Sunday, 4 November 2012

EPSRC Research project Design and Delivery of Robust Hospital Environments in a Changing Climate (DeDeRHECC), new papers published

Short, as Professor of Architecture at Cambridge University, is Principal Investigator for the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council research project 'Design and Delivery of Robust Hospital Environments in a Changing Climate' (DeDeRHECC) £1.06million with contributions from the Dept. of Health. It sits within the Adaptation and Resilience to a Changing Climate call under the umbrella of central government's Living with Environmental Change programme LWEC. The project is developing adaptation strategies for a series of type hospital buildings from late 19th century Nightingale Wards to 60's, 70's and 80's high, medium and low rise buildings, a significant sample of the 30 million square metre NHS Estate, perhaps the largest estate of buildings nominally under single ownership in the world. Some 330 acute hospitals comprise 18 million square metres within this estate built in recognisable historic bursts of investment in hospital buildings in highly recognisable types belonging to each period. The work is cited in the national Climate Change Risk Assessment and is informing DEFRA's National Adaptation Plan. Project Partners include Loughborough, Leeds and the Open Universities, Cambridge's own Engineering Design Centre, Arup, Davis Langdon AECOM and four NHS Acute Trusts: Bradford Royal Infirmary, Leicester University Hospitals, W.Herts and Addenbrookes in Cambridge. The results are being released in a series of papers, two of which are cited below, a broadcast quality film is in production describing the prodigious scale of the problem and animating the many options and strategies for a comprehensive range of hospitals. Davis Langdon are costing all the proposals including net present value calculations.

Full citations as below:

Short, C.A., Lomas, K.J., Renganathan, G., Fair,A. (2012) ‘Building resilience to overheating into 1960's UK hospital buildings within the constraint of the national carbon reduction target: adaptive strategies’. Building and Environment doi:10.1016/j.buildenv.2012.02.031

The National Health Service (NHS) Estate in England includes 18.83 Mm2 of acute hospital accommodation, distributed across 330 sites. Vulnerability to overheating is clear with 15,000 excess deaths occurring nationally during the July 2003 heatwave. The installation of mechanical cooling in existing hospitals appears to be the inevitable recommendation from NHS patient safety risk assessments but the carbon implications would undermine the NHS Carbon Reduction Strategy. NHS CO2 emissions constitute 25% of all public sector emissions, equivalent to 3% of the UK total. In the post-2008 economic climate, the likelihood of wholesale replacement of the NHS Estate is significantly diminished; refurbishment is now of increasing interest to the Trusts that together make up the NHS. The research project ‘Design and Delivery of Robust Hospital Environments in a Changing Climate’ seeks to understand the environmental performance of the current NHS Estate and, from this, to establish its resilience. To this end, hospital buildings operated by four NHS Trusts are being monitored and simulated using dynamic thermal models calibrated against measured data. Adaptive refurbishment options are proposed and their relative performance predicted against the existing internal conditions, energy demands and CO2 emissions. This paper presents findings relating to one representative type building, a medium-rise ward block dating from the late 1960s.  It shows that this particular type may have more resilience in the current climate than might have been expected, that it will remain resilient into the 2030s, and that relatively non-invasive measures would extend and increase its resilience whilst saving energy. 

 Lomas, K.J., Giridharan, R., Short, C.A., Fair,A.J. (2012) Resilience of
            ‘Nightingale’ hospital wards in a changing climate’, Building Serv. Eng.
Res. Technol. 33,1 (2012) pp. 81–10

The National Health Service (NHS) Estate in England comprises more than 30Mm2 with 18.83Mm2 of acute hospital accommodation on 330 sites.  There is concern about the resilience of these buildings in a changing climate, informed by the experience of recent heatwaves.  However, the widespread installation of air conditioning would disrupt the achievement of ambitious energy reduction targets. The research project ‘Design and Delivery of Robust Hospital Environments in a Changing Climate’ is attempting to estimate the resilience of the NHS Estate on the basis of current and projected performance and using an adaptive comfort model. This paper presents results relating to a 1920s traditionally built block with open ‘Nightingale’ wards, a representative type.  The paper demonstrates the relative resilience of the type, and illustrates a series of relatively light-touch measures that may increase resilience while saving energy.

Practical application
The results presented in this paper will be of value to NHS Trusts: Estates staff charged with operating buildings as well as Boards and others involved in decision-making.  It will also find an audience with policymakers in central government and the Department of Health, as well as those who own, operate or are tasked with working on non-domestic buildings with heavy traditional construction.