Why is it so important for hospitals to implement climate-friendly measures?
Dickhoff: In Germany, hospitals are among the most resource-intensive consumers in the service, commercial and retail sectors. They use vast amounts of energy around the clock for electricity, heating, cooling and air pressure. The equipment is often outdated as well though this is an area where money could be saved. Yet the core competencies of hospitals does not pertain to energy supply. Hospitals and rehabilitation clinics are primarily required to provide medical treatment to patients to return them back to health. Meanwhile, hospitals are large contributors to carbon emissions. Hospital operations negatively affect the environment and the climate. Having said that, environmental protection equals health protection because humans can only survive in a healthy environment.
What are some easy improvements hospitals and clinics can implement?
Dickhoff: In the energy realm, it’s quite easy to optimize hospital operations. For example, ventilation optimization can drastically reduce energy consumption at hospitals if systems are adapted to work hours. Air-conditioning equipment often makes up 40 percent of energy consumption. Smart technology and controls can help in this setting. The same applies to the heating system. Heating only turns on if needed once it has been adjusted based on weather forecasts.
There are other efficient measures that improve hospital sectors. For example, smart food management is yet another simple measure that is both eco-friendly and relieves logistics. German clinics already implement effective waste management strategies, but consumer waste could still be further reduced. Educating staff members is yet another great tool to monitor the effectiveness of measures.
As part of the "KLIK- Klimamanager für Kliniken" project (climate action for clinical facilities), we created guidelines to address energy aspects. This includes energy-saving tips and examples of best practices with their financial impact.