In current times, the challenge of effectively running a hospital has become all the more difficult. Rapid changes in the socio-economic-political environment have raised uncertainties on the sustainability of businesses/organizations. Hospitals are experiencing this phenomenon as well. Hyper-competition, increasing costs, high patient expectations and Government norms have resulted in eroding profit margins for hospitals. Out-of-the-box and innovative measures are the need of the hour to ensure sustainability and growth. Going green is one such cost-containment measure that pays off in the longer run. The concept of Green Hospitals is a well-established one, although it is not practised much.
Green Hospitals – Green building, by definition, refer to both structure and the application of processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient. This is relevant throughout a building’s life-cycle: from planning to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and demolition. From a hospital’s perspective, the objectives of a green hospital are –
• Efficiently using energy, water, and other resources
• Enhancing patient well-being and improving employee productivity
• Reducing waste, pollution and environmental degradation
Tangible benefits – The intangible benefits of green hospitals in terms of reduction in patient recovery time, eliminating Sick Building Syndrome (SBS), reduced stress levels resulting in enhanced employee well-being, environmental conservation are enormous. However, green hospitals not only help the environment and the patient/staff, but are also light on the hospital’s pocket. Studies have shown that even though most green buildings cost a premium of <2%, they yield 10 times as much over the entire life of the building. The maximum cost savings come in the form of reduced utility bills. As per estimates, green hospitals consume 20-40 per cent less energy and around 30 per cent less water in comparison to their non-green counterparts. Furthermore, green hospitals concentrate towards generating lesser waste by deploying re-using and re-cycling techniques. Therefore, significant operational cost can also be saved on waste disposal.
Most-adoptable green hospital practices for existing hospitals –
- Ensure placement of patient, visitor and staff furniture to maximize utilization of natural light
- Have larger windows / openings to harness natural daylight
- Consider ledge sitting at windows, wherever possible
- Play with colors that are light-reflective in order to brighten-up areas
- Use occupancy sensors in passageways, waiting areas, store rooms, etc. to optimize lighting and air-conditioning
- Install low-energy LED lights that can help save significant lighting cost
- Use re-usable items, wherever possible
- Re-cycle paper and kitchen waste
- Optimum re-use of water using STP, dual plumbing lines, low-flush toilet fittings, re-use of water for toilet flushing, etc.
- Harness solar energy and practice solar water heating
Above are few of the green hospital practices that can be easily adopted by existing hospitals in their quest to lower operational costs. In the end, awareness, monitoring and implementation are critical to achieving this.