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New Hospital Design Gets Clean Bill Of Health

Wednesday 20 November 2002

New hospital design gets clean bill of health

Waitakere's new hospital design has been given a clean bill of health with the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) providing a Crown loan for the remaining energy efficiency improvements.

Heather Staley, Chief Executive of EECA, says the hospital was designed with sustainability in mind but EECA still recommended an energy audit of the proposed design before the plans were set in concrete.

The energy audit was part funded by EECA with the Waitemata District Health Board picking up the rest of the cost, and the investment will pay for itself many times over with energy savings of up to 20 percent identified.

"This is the first time EECA has been asked to part-fund an audit of a building design prior to construction and we hope it won't be the last. It's so much easier to build an energy efficient building than to try and change an existing building.

"The savings for the tenants are substantial. In the case of the Hospital, the 20 percent saving equates to about $145,000 per year in energy costs - money that can be spent on health care rather than power bills. A healthy building also means a better environment for the occupants. Overseas research shows that buildings with good use of daylight, natural ventilation and better air quality lead to increased staff productivity, decreased sick leave and decreased staff turnover. In the case of Waitakere Hospital, it means a better environment for staff to work in and a healthier environment for patients to recover in.

"Some of the energy efficiency improvements identified were cost neutral or actually saved construction costs such as using natural ventilation instead of the proposed air conditioning in some areas. This highlights the value of investing more resources at the design phase of a project. Additional capital expenditure of about $300,000 was required to save a further $75,000 per annum on operating costs and this will be covered by EECA's loan. The loan will be repaid out of the energy savings in less than four years, then the savings go straight back into the Hospital's budget," Ms Staley said.

The cost effective energy efficient improvements include higher levels of insulation, better use of natural light, high efficiency lighting (including adjustable lighting levels for daylight areas and sensor lighting for low use areas), and efficiency improvements to the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.

Ms Staley said Waitakere City Council played a major role in ensuring the new hospital was sustainable with strong advocacy at the design stage to ensure processes were in place to include sustainability principles in the building's design and construction. The Council are showing leadership to their community by putting sustainability into action.

"Energy efficiency makes good business sense. Many New Zealand businesses are realising the benefits of improving the way they use energy. Waitakere Hospital is a good example to property developers of the savings that can be made by making a building energy efficient from the ground up.

"One quarter of New Zealand's energy use is consumed in or by buildings. While improvements can be made to existing building it is much easier to build energy efficiency into planned construction. Most New Zealand buildings are built with little regard for energy use leaving the occupants stuck with a building which wastes energy and is often less comfortable to work in," Ms Staley said.

Information on the energy audit grants and crown loans can be found on EECA's website For information on energy efficient building design check out the website, email or phone 04 470 2200.


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