Healthcare provider Netcare’s new Alberton Hospital, which will open its doors in April, will feature several green technologies, including solar power, advanced energy, water and waste management systems, integral building design elements and sustainable materials.
“Developing the large, 427-bed hospital from scratch presented us with the ideal opportunity to lay a strong foundation for providing healthcare more sustainably, through reducing reliance on the national power grid and conserving and recycling water, among other environmentally-conscious design features,” Netcare hospital division MD Jacques du Plessis said on March 3.
The hospital, which has been under construction since April 2019, is located on the grounds of the former Newmarket racecourse, south of Johannesburg.
It has been equipped with a solar photovoltaic (PV) energy generating system that will contribute 2 GWh/y of electricity.
“This renewable solar energy will considerably [reduce] the hospital’s use of fossil fuel-based energy resources, while also reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, being the most ambitious PV system installed within the group’s operations to date,” added Netcare national environmental sustainability manager André Nortjé.
The layout and orientation of the building is designed to allow for optimal temperature exchange, including from mechanical heat-exchange systems incorporated into the facility’s operations.
A high-efficiency heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system will regulate air temperature as needed and use the excess heat from all the areas to supply the entire hospital’s hot water needs.
The air-conditioning systems incorporate economy cycles, which use free cooling from the atmosphere to cool the building under moderate conditions.
“The layout and orientation of the building, together with the use of windows and low-emissivity fenestration, means we have the advantage of natural light entering the building while heat, infrared and ultraviolet light are blocked, helping to maintain internal temperature stability, therefore minimising energy expended on heating and cooling all year round,” Nortjé explained.
He added that the design of new hospital’s systems took the mitigation of the looming risk of water shortages into consideration.
“The Netcare Alberton Hospital will conserve water as far as possible through its own, on-site grey water treatment plant,” he said.
Nortjé explained that recycled grey water collected from sources such as sinks, showers and kitchens throughout the hospital will contribute about 60% of the healthcare facility’s projected water demands.
He said the grey water would be safely captured through a system entirely separate from the black water system, then treated to the purity and quality standards of drinking water.
The water quality would be continually monitored in real-time, in line with the national water quality standards SANS241 and other regulatory requirements.
“We estimate that 30.40-million litres of water can be saved yearly through this treatment process, which will then be fed back into bulk water storage ready for use,” he explained.
The new Netcare Alberton Hospital also has an attenuation pond with a function to capture rainwater, as well as four boreholes, all of which can be fed back to the treatment plant and reused within the facility if needed.
“Should the need ever arise, we have even made provision for treatment of black water with minimal adjustment to the water treatment plant, as one of the future-fit features of the hospital design,” Nortjé revealed.
The hospital has also been fitted with energy- and water-efficient sanitary ware, showerheads and toilets, as well as light-emitting-diode lighting, controlled by sensors to prevent waste when no-one is in a room or specific area.
Large atriums with water-wise indigenous plants and large windows throughout illuminate the building with natural light, which Nortjé said would create a “bright yet calming atmosphere conducive to healing, while further reducing the need for artificial lighting”.
BUILDING MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
A full building management system has been incorporated into the hospital, which monitors water and power use throughout, proactively detecting where maintenance may be needed.
De Plessis explained that a large area designated for the sorting and processing of waste materials would enable non-hazardous healthcare waste to be reclaimed for recycling.
The new building incorporates about 183 t of steel and 38 600 m2 of flooring, comprising about 60 349 m2 gross building area.
The hospital is four storeys high in some areas, and three storeys in others, providing sufficient space to house the disciplines and services that had been on offer at Netcare’s Union and Clinton hospitals – also in Alberton – more comfortably, Du Plessis highlighted in December last year.
The Netcare Alberton Hospital will merge and expand the facilities and services of the two other hospitals.
The project was developed in conjunction with local businessperson Riaan Jonker and financial institution Nedbank through the Rejem-Linton (Nedbank) – Netcare Property Holdings joint venture.