Hospitals are among the most energy-intensive buildings worldwide, and their consumption is increasing. The healthcare industry faces a significant challenge to meet its energy needs while keeping costs down, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and maintaining high-quality patient care.
In this article, we will explore the energy challenges faced by hospitals worldwide and the solutions that can help address these challenges.
High Energy Consumption: Hospitals require a lot of energy to run their facilities, including heating, domestic hot water, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC), and medical processes. The energy demand of a hospital is typically three to four times higher than that of a commercial building of the same size.
Aging Infrastructure: Many hospitals have outdated building infrastructure and equipment that are inefficient and costly to maintain. Upgrading to modern, energy-efficient technology may be daunting, but it can help hospitals reduce their energy consumption and operating costs over time, whether conducted as a capital investment or executed in a phased approach.
Budget Constraints: Healthcare organisations often operate on tight budgets, making it difficult to invest in energy-efficient technology and infrastructure upgrades, increasing the reliance on government grants and incentives.
Environmental Concerns: As a result of their high energy consumption, hospitals have a large carbon footprint and face very challenging targets to reduce their CO2 emissions rapidly in the coming years. Whilst there is no single solution, technology and innovation is rapidly advancing to help solve the problem.
Energy Efficiency: Optimisation of the existing system should be the first step towards carbon reduction. It can be as simple as improving lagging on pipes and equipment or could comprise more in-depth projects. It is important to identify and prioritise the energy saving opportunities across the whole site, and partnering with the right experts simplifies this process. Minimising energy use today helps to shape the correct solutions for tomorrow, whether this is for space heating, hot water, sterilisation services or any other process within the hospital.
Renewable Energy: The increasing availability of onsite renewable energy from sources like solar panels and wind turbines helps to drive the reduction in carbon emissions and reliance on fossil fuels.
Energy Storage: With increasing electrification and reliance on renewable energy, the need for energy storage becomes ever more important to capture and harness the energy when it is available. Thermal energy storage is one of the most efficient ways of doing this, allowing the energy to be released during periods of high demand or whenever needed. Thermal storage therefore reduces the peaks on electrical demand helping to maintain supply to our critical hospital services.
Energy Management: The first step in energy management is to understand your energy use in all processes. Monitoring energy consumption can help hospitals identify areas of high energy use and implement strategies to reduce consumption and save on energy costs. Installation of “connected” equipment ensures performance data can be continuously received and interrogated in order to optimise performance and efficiency.
The energy challenges faced by Hospitals are extensive and daunting. However, by taking a multi-dimensional approach and seeking out partners who can support with identifying areas for improvement and develop innovative solutions, many hospitals can address these challenges, and reduce their environmental impact, ease the financial burden of running costs and continue to provide high quality patient care.
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