Being one of the first leading hospitals to have pioneered the green concept in healthcare space in South India, Kovai Medical College and Hospital (KMCH), Coimbatore, sees it as its responsibility to provide green environment for faster recovery of patients. In an interview with Elets News Network (ENN), Dr Sivakumaran, COO, KMCH, talks about the key benefits for hospitals for going green.
Being one of the first green hospitals in South India, how do you see this concept being received in the health industry?
In a developing country like India, the environment is not healthy due to various reasons. With sick environment no country can develop a healthy society. Keeping these responsibilities in mind, many healthcare providers have taken initiatives to provide an environment which is friendly and healthy. Few hospitals have gone to the extent of getting Green certification from the authorities to set an example to others. The concept being discussed and debated in many conferences and conclaves shows that the healthcare leaders are supporting this and everybody is serious in implementing. As a reputed healthcare leader, KMCH has implemented many green initiatives and got “Best Green Hospital” by AHPI in 2016.
What are the key benefits of a green hospital?
The benefits of a green hospital are many. The patients are most benefitted. Patients can feel fresh and pleasant in a green location. After relieving stress get reconnect with nature. Studies show that the recovery of patients can be faster in green hospitals and can eliminate sick building syndrome. The doctors and nurses will feel motivated, if a patient is recovered fast and hence stress level is reduced to both. This can improve the quality of care and turnover of patients. When faster recovery and fresh feeling is assured, hospital will get more repeat customers and the reputation of hospital goes up. Another important benefit is reduction of operational cost in which any management is interested in this competitive environment.
Which key steps an ordinary hospital can take to become green?
An ordinary hospital can take smaller steps towards this to enjoy the benefit. Right from changing bulbs to LED, regulating the speed of standard three phase induction motors running at various locations of a hospital, generating and consuming bio gas from food waste, installing solar heaters to generate hot water for patient rooms, constructing building which can utilise the natural light in day time, rain water harvesting, providing food without preservatives in the hospital dietary and canteen, using environmental friendly housekeeping chemicals, using electrically operated vehicles for internal movements, proper treating of effluent water recycling of treated water for flushing and gardening are few initiatives leading an ordinery hospital to a green hospital. Using solar/wind power energy will bring down the operational cost drastically.
What are the most important features of a green building?
A green building is one which improves the patient’s well-being and able to utilise the natural resources to the maximum extent. It should not contribute to the burden of disease. It need to be planned in such a way that there is an ample moving space for relaxation and enjoy the ease environment. Lot of greeneries can be part of the building to make the patients fresh and energetic. Apart from this having watch on other elements like water conservation, better waste handling, energy conservation system, reduced use of fossil fuels, less usage of virgin materials are all form part of green building features.
Which important national and international accreditations, certifications a hospital should target to acquire to get the Green tag?
IGBC Green Healthcare rating system is awarded by Indian Green Building Council. They award certification at different level like Silver, Gold and Platinum depending on the best practices at local, national and global levels.
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a Green Building Rating System, developed by the US Green Building Council.
What are the cost implications for hospitals to reduce their carbon footprints?
Efforts on reducing carbon footprint are nothing but directly reducing waste and controlling on energy usage. This can be initiated by smaller steps like inspection on insulation, heating, lighting, watch on computer monitors and fans when not required. The energy from state electricity is very costly and dependability is in question. If hospitals can afford to invest in solar plant, the energy cost will be substantially reduced and on a long run, solar energy will be profitable. For 4 MW generations, it requires around `25 crores (without land cost) as capital investment and the payback period is 5 years only. If this investment is not viable, then hospitals can look for buying solar/ wind energy which is cheaper than the state electricity tariff. Hospitals can go for Building Maintenance System (BMS) with which the various energies used in mechanical and electrical equipments, lighting, power system, fire system, security system, etc. could be monitored through computer. This could be controlled and monitored from the desk without wasting time in moving around. The cost may vary between `5 lacs to `25 lacs depending on the specifications.
How technology is incorporated in developing green buildings?
Technology can play a vital role and benefit the hospital. Right from switching on/off the lights at various locations, regulating AC temperature, monitoring the speed of the motor is possible by sitting in a computer system which can be operated at a remote place. Many a times, patients switch on the bath room lights throughout the night. This is waste of energy and it is impossible to request them to switch off every time. If technology is applied, the room sensor will sense the movement and automatically switch on and off. Similar logic is applicable to usage of water. If it is a sensor based operation, the water consumption could be considerably decreased. By having proper sewage treatment plant, the treated water could be used for gardening, flushing and laundry usage. Usage of battery operated vehicles for the internal movement can reduce fuel consumption and can reduce the air and sound pollution. An automated water level controller can save lot of water getting wasted.