Towards Zero Carbon Hospitals with Renewable Energy Systems
The IEE RES-Hospitals project aimed at reducing CO₂ emissions from the existing stock of some 15,000 hospitals in Europe. Their relatively high energy intensity makes them an ideal subject to explore non-technical barriers to the exploitation of energy efficiency measures and renewable energy systems. In contrast with new hospitals, which can be designed for low energy, everyone realises that existing hospitals will need to focus on reducing energy consumption and exploiting renewable energy sources to achieve their longer term CO₂ reduction targets, but most are currently ignoring especially RES options. This project therefore aimed to address this intransigence and provide European hospital stakeholders with the tools to make better and faster decisions.
The project was led by a Public Local Health Agency in Italy, which has been given regional responsibility to study and apply efficiency measures and explore the feasibility of RES in existing hospitals. The remainder of the consortium builds on the European Centre for Health Assets & Architecture and the complementary European public procurement network on Low Carbon Buildings for the Healthcare Sector. Pilot projects have been carried out with several hospitals. From this the project produced a practical Guide on RES in Hospitals that was validated by a peer group of stakeholders and which has been disseminated to hospital decision makers and personnel responsible for the day to day hospital activity throughout Europe.
- 16 hospitals in seven European countries explored options to become zero carbon in the future and produced 2020 Investment Plans aimed at producing at least 50% of their energy needs from renewable energy.
- The overall planned investment is nearly €150 million, of which over one third has already been committed. If all of the plans are implemented it would result in an annual reduction of nearly 80,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions
- A high quality ‘Renewable Energy Guide for European Hospitals’ has been produced and widely disseminated. This is aimed at management/policy decision makers and based on good practice and lessons learned from the national pilots. It makes extensive use of case study evidence to support the key messages. The English-language Guide has also been translated into Italian and Spanish.
- Over 80 stakeholders from across Europe have directly engaged with the projects through the national pilots and/or peer learning workshop.
- A published ‘Summary of the RES-Hospital project’ has been produced with details of those hospitals that participated in what became known as the RES-Hospitals Challenge (i.e. 50% RES by 2020). Most of the hospitals have agreed that their Investment Plans can be made available to others via the project website.
- The overwhelming energy-related priority in European hospitals is cost reduction and this is driving both strategic and cumulative investments in energy efficiency.
- Investment in renewable energy systems has a very low political priority in most European health agencies/ministries and is difficult to justify on economic criteria alone. Biomass is considered to be the most practical option at present to achieve 50% RES.
- Most hospitals are unwilling, or unable, to become community energy producers as a means of achieving radical reductions in their carbon footprint and net energy costs.
Project duration: June 2011 to November 2013.