Evaluation of a Sustainable Hospital Design based on its Social and Environmental Outcomes

Aug 01, 2011

The study assessed the performance of a newly-built sustainable hospital by comparing the thermal comfort of its patients and staff, and the ambient thermal conditions with those of two other hospitals with less sophisticated designs. Additionally, a facility management perspective was used to understand the role hospital administrators had in contributing to sustainable design outcomes and document the unanticipated challenges and unintended consequences of operating the newly-built sustainable hospital. Data were collected through thermal environment equipment, a thermal comfort survey, and interviews with care providers, patients, and facility managers. The hypotheses were that the hospital with the modern and more sophisticated sustainable ventilation design features would have a higher level of thermal comfort and lower heat index in the naturally ventilated wards than hospitals without those features and that thermal comfort would be higher in air-conditioned wards than naturally ventilated wards. The results indicate that sophisticated sustainable hospital designs can improve the ambient thermal environment and occupant thermal comfort but not all those features were necessary. The study also suggests the need for adopting an integrated sustainable design strategy to prevent or mitigate some of the facility operation challenges encountered. Additionally, the study proposes for a shift in thermal comfort standards and green building rating tools to meet the unique thermal comfort needs of hospital users.

Ziqi Wu
Published & professionally reviewed by: 
Faculty of the Graduate School of Cornell University

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