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Are Daylight Conditions of Hospitals Important in the De...

Are Daylight Conditions of Hospitals Important in the Design Process?

When we wake up in the morning and the weather is sunny and warm, don’t we feel more happy and eager to go out and face everyday life? Imagine a patient that stays in a hospital room for many days. If they wake up in a room full of sunshine, surely they feel more relaxed

When we wake up in the morning and the weather is sunny and warm, don’t we feel more happy and eager to go out and face everyday life?

Imagine a patient that stays in a hospital room for many days. If they wake up in a room full of sunshine, surely they feel more relaxed and optimist about their condition than by waking up in a gloomy room. Studies show that there is a strong connection between a patients’ recovery and daylight conditions. Even hospital staff (doctors, nurses, et cetera) found it more beneficial to work with natural daylight when possible.

In order for engineers, architects and anyone interested in having a common strategy for hospital design, several standards and rating systems have been established. The most important of these systems include:

  • CIBSE (Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers): A standard setter and authority with members from all over the world;

  • IESNA (Illuminating Engineering Society of North America): A scientific society with 8,000 members, most of whom are from Canada, Mexico, and USA;

  • BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method): An assessment company, healthcare included, created in United Kingdom;

  • LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design): A ratings system which includes healthcare, created in the USA.

The last two rating systems take into account main elements of their country of origin. It is interesting to note that a building designed following the regulations of one system can be classified as of a poorer energy quality with the second rating system.

Breeam Leed examples

The above two images portray the Loudoun Square, Cardiff healthcare facility and the Houghton-le-Spring Primary Care Centre, Tyne and Wear, designed with BREEAM rating system. The bottom two images portray the new Karolinska Solna University Hospital, Stockholm and Laguna Honda Hospital, California, designed with the LEED rating system.

In Greece, the Centre for Renewable Energy Sources and Saving (CRES) is the Greek national entity “for the promotion of renewable energy sources, rational use of energy and energy conservation.” It also gives recommendations for successful implementation of bioclimatic design. These hospitals do not have specific guidelines such as the aforementioned, but only recommendations. However, Greek hospital designs try to provide the best possible daylight conditions for patient rooms.

An example of this is the “KAT” hospital located in northern Attica, which is one of the biggest public hospitals in Athens, specialized for orthopedic incidents. In surveys conducted via questionnaire, it was reported that patients, staff and visitors are generally satisfied with the amount of daylight. The main reason for this is the hospital’s initial design: recovery rooms were designed with south orientation so that during the daytime they would receive plenty of natural light.

Do hospitals with certified standards and rating systems exist in your country? What's your opinion of them?

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

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Athina Kyrgeorgiou graduated from National Technical University of Athens, Greece as a Civil Engineer with a specialization in Transportation Planning and Engineering. She currently lives in Athens, Greece and is always eager to learn about sustai...

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