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Better designed buildings needed

Better building design in the NHS could cut energy costs by a quarter and improve workforce productivity at the same time, claims a new report.

Commissioned by the NHS Confederation, Taking the temperature: Towards an NHS response to global warming, was written by the independent think tank, NEF (the new economics foundation) and identifies how the NHS can do more to reduce its carbon footprint through more sustainable design.

In particular, it highlights the recommendations of the NHS Estates Consortium, which suggests that a saving in energy costs of at least 25% could be made simply by designing things differently.

Appealing to architects, contractors and facilities managers to follow an eight-point framework identified in the consortium’s report, Claiming the Health Dividend, published by the King’s Fund, the Confederation calls for building designs to consider: building location; the relationship between the building and its site; building orientation; resource efficiency; accessibility and mobility; waste minimisation; community involvement; and whole life costing.

Emission reductions of between 8-10% can also be made in existing NHS buildings, claims the Confederation’s report, by installing energy saving devices, such as motion sensor lighting and building management systems. Changes to the building fabric such as insulation can also reduce energy consumption levels.