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In July we attended the UHEI 2023 in London. This was one of a series of events highlighting and discussing innovations in the University and Healthcare Estates sector.
The event was held at the Chelsea FC ground at Stamford Bridge, Kensington. The main focus of this event was sustainability and reaching Government Net Zero targets within the NHS and higher education sectors. Doing more with less.
Apart from the opportunity to see the inside of Stamford Bridge, the UHEI event gave us the opportunity to listen to talks from specialists and professionals from universities and the NHS.
Designing and Delivering Net Zero NHS Estates
Fiona is the national sustainability and EFM (Estates and Facilities Management) workforce lead for NHS England. Her team are tasked with leading the strategies and national programmes to decarbonise the NHS Estate.
NHS England is working hard to make changes across their estates that help the country achieve Net Zero carbon emissions by 2040. Fiona explained the complexities of managing estates highlighting some interesting statistics.
- 40% – the built environment creates 40% of emissions in the UK
- 5% – the NHS is responsible for 5% of the UK’s carbon emissions!
Fiona Daly and James Bate speaking on the morning session panel
Fiona and James Bate, Senior Project Manager with the Greener NHS Programme (South East), clearly explained the need for driving innovation, engagement and delivery and to provide healthcare organisations with the support they need to implement their Net Zero plans.
We learned that NHS England has existing ‘retained’ estates, leased estates and is also constructing new buildings and hospitals. Fiona talked about their strategy to reduce carbon emissions on existing and leased buildings while designing new buildings to be carbon neutral.
Fiona’s project teams have used digital twins to model energy usage in existing buildings and new building designs. A digital twin is a digital version of a real building. Once created, the digital twin can then be used to apply different energy configurations. It provides the ability to identify actual energy usage in an existing building and lets you model different energy design options to identify efficiencies.
As a result of this detailed work, her team has created the world’s first Net Zero building standard. This NHS England standard is now applied to all new NHS construction and sets out the energy efficiency requirements of new NHS buildings.
Following Fiona, James Bate highlighted that the NHS is now looking at carbon reduction strategies for transport, fleet vehicle electrification, and EV stations to support achieving the Net Zero goals.
In this session, it was both fascinating and comforting to learn how the NHS England sustainability project teams are at the forefront of Net Zero design and technology.
Using Digital Twins to Optimise Facilities
There were also talks from sustainability leaders in the University sector. Adele Brooks, Head of Capital Projects at the University of Greenwich, oversees three campuses where they have been using the digital twin methods to map energy usage and use simulations to design efficiencies.
Similarly, Rich Draper, Head of BIM and digital assets at the University of Birmingham, spoke about how they have used digital twins to convert 2d utility information into 3d models. This allowed them to design more efficient energy systems in existing buildings.
Reducing Assets and Optimising Space Usage
It was clear that both sectors are focused on reducing the number of assets they manage and ensuring their assets and buildings are used efficiently.
The University of Birmingham decided that the fastest way to achieve energy savings and reduce carbon emissions is to shut down buildings. Rich Draper and his team researched the actual usage of their buildings to identify under-utilised buildings. By using anonymous wifi usage to indicate how buildings were being used and understanding the peaks and troughs of usage, they were able to close underused buildings by changing other buildings to multi-use sites.
A similar strategy is being used by Fiona Daly’s NHS Estates teams. They are optimising space and asset management to reduce the number of assets they operate. These include
- parking spaces
- meeting and treatment rooms
- and hardware devices.
NHS Estates are moving towards a hybrid working model with shared assets. So now, spaces and equipment are accessible to staff via booking and kiosk check-in systems. These programmes are helping reduce NHS England’s estate operating costs and carbon emissions.
Listening to the sessions and discussions at UHEI, it was clear that both sectors are using data-driven decision-making to combine energy reduction and make more efficient use of assets and spaces to deliver their Net Zero strategy.
We learned that the government aims to ensure early procurement dialogues on design, delivery, costing and the social value of solutions. Biodiversity, decarbonisation, and environmental footprint are significant considerations for government procurement teams.
The UHEI event was a real eye-opener, allowing us to see the real progress the NHS and Universities are making in working towards the government’s Net Zero targets.
The UHEI is a series of events, and we highly recommend attending if you want to learn about the latest innovations in the Healthcare and University sectors.
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Neil is a writer focused on simplifying complex technology, operations and regulatory subjects for our public and private sector audience and highlighting how Unity5’s SaaS solutions simplify complex business processes.