Building Better Healthcare Awards

BBH Awards - Tyne and Wear primary care centre leads the way for sustainability

Published: 8-Nov-2012

Houghton-le-Spring Primary Care Centre picks up Innovation in Sustainability gong

Houghton-le-Spring Primary Care Centre, winner of the Innovation in Sustainability Award has broken new ground, becoming the first building in the UK to achieve a BREEAM ‘outstanding’ rating for sustainability as early as the initial design phase.

The idea of a building that would be highly energy efficient and also deliver a significantly enhanced environment for patients and staff was the result of cross-party working.

The building itself provides traditional healthcare services alongside operations previously accessed only through hospitals, including X-ray, minor surgery and a 24-bed rehabilitation unit.

Located adjacent to an existing leisure centre, which was also refurbished as part of the overall scheme, the facility creates a landmark for community healthcare and, externally, the site offers wide-ranging exercise options, from skateboarding and a trim trail to games pitches and bowling greens.

With the BREEAM top rating as the target from the outset, decisions relating to sustainability were considered very early on, extending to the choice of site, the selection of a cohesive team with relevant experience, and the early appointment of a BREEAM assessor to evaluate design options against the criteria. This strategy, and a commitment to value for money rather than lowest capital cost, provided an ideal platform from which to undertake some of the innovative environmental approaches.

When we talk about sustainable NHS services, this is going to help create a benchmark for the future

Natural ventilation consultants were introduced from the outset and they provided a novel solution, designing a bespoke 50m thermal wall along the spine of the building, which was awarded an innovation credit by BRE. The wall is split into 49 shafts, which provide separate ventilation for individual spaces, also reducing the potential for infection transfer through the heating and cooling systems. Based on thermal mass and night-time cooling principals, the technology adopts different strategies for summer and winter cooling.

Other interventions include PV and solar-thermal panes, ground source heat pumps, a wind turbine, rainwater harvesting and electric car plug points.

Through these measures, the team predicts a 33% reduction in running costs, with grant funding from the Technology Strategy Board enabling ongoing monitoring of the impact of the project until 2014, meaning that evidence can be gathered to inform future healthcare designs.

The judges said: “This was a client that demanded that sustainability and environmental performance were paramount from the very earliest stage of the design process, leading to this development being the first to get a BREEAM ‘outstanding’ rating. The building also meets the needs of its users and when we talk about sustainable NHS services, this is going to help create a benchmark for the future.”

WINNER: Houghton-le-Spring Primary Care Centre, Sunderland (Sunderland Teaching Primary Care Trust, P + HS Architects, Willmott Dixon, Cundalls, Mott MacDonald)

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