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SUSTAINABLE ENERGY Brett Seeney – Associate with WSP


A sustainable healthcare solution


Echuca Regional Health Hospital is at the centre of life in northern Victoria, Australia. The hospital executive set out to create a world-class hospital and to show that such a facility could be built for the same budget as a traditional healthcare facility. Utilising sustainable technology and innovative thinking the collaboration of the engineer and the client has delivered an exciting healthcare engineering solution.


Echuca Regional Health Hospital (ERH) is located in northern Victoria, Australia. Echuca is a thriving town of some 13,000 residents with a large tourist population increase during the summer months. Although the staff and service provided by


the hospital were held in high regard by the local community the building stock had deteriorated to the point where it was felt it no longer met the needs of the community. A successful campaign was undertaken to raise awareness of the issues and this resulted in a pledge of $65 million for the redevelopment of the hospital. Having been awarded funding, ERH was


determined that the new hospital would be seen to be a leader in rural healthcare and were excited to share innovative approaches with the consultant team. Via workshops, a number of key systems emerged that would draw together clinical, management and built environment systems to provide an integrated experience. These included: • No increase in grid supplied electricity to the site.


• Flexibility of ventilation regimes.


‘The challenge was… to design a new hospital that increased clinical services while decreasing reliance upon electricity.’


20 The new Echuca Regional Health Hospital.


• Workflow integration to control key services elements such as ventilation and lighting through a single user interface.


Limiting the increase in electrical demand There has been a historical challenge in providing for an increasing electrical demand for clinical services. To continue the trend would have required extensive reinforcement of the supply infrastructure, at a cost that would not have been a viable economic proposition for the project. The challenge was, therefore, to design a new hospital that increased clinical services while decreasing reliance upon electricity. Early concepts and modelling indicated that the new development would give rise to a cooling load of 1.2 MW. In turn, some older building stock would be demolished. These areas were predominantly served by refrigerant-based systems and a smaller air cooled chiller. This equated to about 500 KW cooling, an estimated 200 KW of grid supplied electricity. With an increase in medical equipment use and a higher provision for general power and lighting, associated with a modern healthcare facility, the requirement was to utilise this saved electrical capacity directly in clinical care, rather than driving an


electric chiller. WSP had been involved with ERH in the


design of a 102 panel Greenland Systems evacuated-tube solar field coupled to a 500 KWchw


Broad absorption chiller, allowing


for future expansion. The concept had been developed to exploit the one resource Echuca has in abundance, sunshine. This solar field produced water at 75˚C


which was used as the heat source to a single effect absorption chiller. In practice, the solar field produced far more hot water than the chiller required and so storage vessels were installed to allow the water to be used in domestic hot water systems. The installation was treated, in part, as a research tool and the data amassed indicated


Brett Seeney


Brett Seeney BEng(Hons) CEng, FIHEEM, MCIBSE is an associate with WSP based in Melbourne, Australia. He has been involved in the development of healthcare facilities for around 25 years with projects in the UK, Republic of South Africa and Australia.


IFHE DIGEST 2014


Image supplied by dwp Suters (Architects).


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