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How Glasgow's new hospital is achieving ambitious energy and sustainability targets

The New South Glasgow Hospitals development is the largest NHS project in the UK and is targeting BREEAM Excellent status as well as a series of other stringent sustainability and waste management targets.

The New South Glasgow Hospitals scheme is the largest design-and-build project in Scotland, as well as being the largest NHS construction project in the UK.

Being built on the site of the city’s Southern General Hospital, it will cover an area equivalent to 11 football pitches once complete and will provide Glasgow with one of the country’s most advanced healthcare facilities.

As part of the project, consultant WSP and main contractor Brookfield Multiplex were tasked with achieving high standards of environmental performance, including a BREEAM Excellent rating and stringent targets for minimising waste generation.

“Sustainability is at the heart of this new development,” says WSP sustainability consultant Rebecca Hart. “The project team included a dedicated WSP sustainability manager, as well as a BREEAM assessor and a waste management adviser.”

Setting targets to stretch the team

The project will see the construction of a new multi-storey adult hospital, providing 1,109 beds. All patients will be in single en-suite rooms with a view.

In addition, a new 256-bed children’s hospital with supporting laboratory facilities is being built and will be linked to the adult building. The children’s hospital also has a roof garden and accessible green space for its young patients.

The Greater Glasgow and Clyde NHS board specified that the project had to achieve a BREEAM Excellent rating. A number of “stretching” energy and carbon targets were set for the project before it began, with sustainability considered throughout the process.

“Our sustainability manager worked closely with the Brookfield Multiplex design team and discussed all of the targets at a sustainability workshop early in the design process,” Ms Hart says.

Requiring particular attention early on were the energy and carbon targets, which stipulated no more than 80 kg of CO2 per sq m produced per year, when typical hospital levels are 140 kg of CO2 per sq m per year.

“Part of the solution to meet this target was to use an onsite CHP plant,” Ms Hart explains. “We’re using natural gas to provide low-carbon heat and electricity for the hospital.

“The design of the building has been optimised to ensure its fabric is of a high standard and that low-energy building services are used throughout. We’re also using natural daylight to help keep lighting costs down.”

High target for waste management

Minimising and managing waste was perhaps the biggest single focus of all, with Brookfield Multiplex setting a corporate target to divert 83 per cent of waste from landfill.

“We used WRAP’s Net Waste Tool throughout the design phase to identify how much waste could be reduced by,” Ms Hart says.

“We used an innovative onsite sorting system, and managed to improve the landfill diversion rate to above 90 per cent”

Rebecca Hart, WSP

The team took a ‘designing out waste’ approach, with five principles: designing for re-use and recovery; offsite construction; materials optimisation; waste-efficient procurement; and deconstruction.

“We held a workshop at the project outset, and by considering these aspects at the start we were able to embed them into the design process,” Ms Hart says.

In practical terms, one example of how this was applied on the project was in the use of prefabricated components and offsite manufacturing for onsite assembly.

The prefabricated components used included the link bridge connecting the buildings and the hospital’s helipad, as well as the glass curtain walling on the main tower of the hospital.

A number of other concrete structures, columns, stairways and floor slab end beams were also made offsite, along with plug-and-play mechanical and electrical services risers and cable trays.

“We used an innovative onsite sorting system, and managed to improve the landfill diversion rate to above 90 per cent,” Ms Hart says.

“This not only improved the recycling rate and reduced the costs of sending waste to landfill, but it also meant that materials for re-use were identified and saved for use elsewhere on the site.”

The current projection for NSGH is to have just 1,700 tonnes of waste going to landfill, 80 per cent less than the industry baseline of 8,200 tonnes.

The difficulties of meeting tough goals

However, achieving the waste management targets proved less problematic than other aspects of the project.

“The greatest challenge in terms of sustainability has certainly been the carbon target,” says WSP project director Pete Dunbar.

A detailed model of the hospital was created to examine all the different aspects of design.

“This allowed us to understand how different aspects affect the energy performance of the building,” Mr Dunbar says. “We worked closely with NHS representatives to ensure that what was being designed was feasible in operation.”

Mr Dunbar explains that the construction of a Y-shaped ward was also a technical challenge. “We worked closely with Brookfield Multiplex and the architects, Nightingale Associates, from the outset,” he says.

“The new ward facilitated a back-to-back en-suite layout while still maintaining the requisite travel distances for nurses on a 28-bed ward layout. The area available for clinical use was maximised in the process.”

The net effect of this was a significant reduction in the surface area of the tower, with the amount of required curtain walling reduced as a result.

“By working with our fire and structural engineers, we were even able to achieve this without the need for an escape stair at the end of the tower legs, further optimising structure and cost efficiencies,” Mr Dunbar says.

On the road to achieving strong results

Although not yet complete, the project has already shown signs of promising outcomes from its sustainability measures. As well as the aforementioned carbon reductions, the stringent targets for waste reduction are expected to result in significant cost savings.

“We expect a potential cost saving of 5 per cent compared with the standard industry waste disposal cost of £5,840,909 for a hospital of this size,” Ms Hart predicts.

“The greatest challenge in terms of sustainability has certainly been the carbon target”

Pete Dunbar, WSP

The team’s work to secure the BREEAM Excellent rating is ongoing, with the hospitals being assessed under BREEAM Healthcare 2008.

“Achieving Excellent means, among other things, that we have to score six points in the energy section for minimising carbon emissions,” Ms Hart says. “The low NHS carbon target means our predicted score is much greater.”

For the waste credits, Brookfield Multiplex has chosen to use a bespoke version of BRE’s SMARTWaste tool, where waste levels are tracked along with the destination of the waste.

“This tool shows our progress towards the BREEAM target of 90 per cent landfill diversion waste and where improvements can or need to be made,” Ms Hart explains.

“Prefabrication has helped to reduce waste levels on site and the prefabricated concrete slabs have high levels of recycled aggregate and cement replacement in them.

“We’re also tracking the site’s energy and water consumption, as well as its carbon footprint. This is necessary for the full credits on managing the construction site impacts.”

Mr Dunbar praises Brookfield Multiplex’s role, saying that its track record in sustainable development is strong.

“Brookfield Multiplex implements a rigorous environmental management system and an extensive social responsibility programme. That’s why it was chosen,” he says.

“We have supported the project team on achieving the sustainability targets. This project will transform the previous outdated facilities into a state-of-the-art community hub.”

The project sustainability matrix

The team’s goals for reducing carbon and minimising waste were incorporated into a larger ‘project sustainability matrix’.

“This tracked all of the different sustainability targets relating to the social, economic and environmental impacts of the project,” Ms Hart says.

One target, for example, was to create new jobs: specifically, employing 10 per cent ‘new entrants’ – people who have been previously unemployed or have not been employed in construction before.

“Brookfield Multiplex exceeded these targets, and the project currently employs 27 per cent new entrants,” Ms Hart says. “This means that 318 local people are now working on site.”

Other parts of the matrix see the team employing sustainable construction practices, such as incorporating 10 per cent recycled material into construction and creating new habitats and green infrastructure on site.

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