Italy aims for green hospitals, ‘healing’ through art, light and immersed in the landscape

66% of the structures are more than 50 years old, energy efficiency is the first step

Hospitals immersed in the landscape, where light becomes the protagonist and where there is also space for art. “Less hospital” but “hybrid” structures in which libraries, banks, commercial areas, car parks, restaurants, hotels for patients and families, research centres, university classrooms and a campus are planned, “a small city with a clear order to allow to improve the quality of care and life. Treat yourself in a domestic space instead of in a hospital, which must increasingly be an emotional place”. Thus Albert De Pineda, president of the Pinearq studio, specialized in the design of green and sustainable hospitals, in his speech at the convention of the Italian Federation of healthcare and hospital companies (Fiaso) in Rome, ‘Creation of green hospitals in Italy: the role of companies’ healthcare’. In Italy “66% of public hospitals are more than 50 years old, 10% were built before 1800”, recalled the experts who spoke.

What does ‘green hospital’ mean? “It is a definition that today is made up of some terms: vegetation, art and landscape – observed the architect – The project of a hospital cannot be independent and abstract from the context where it stands but must be inserted into that context because an urban engine development of the city. Plants and vegetation, for example, must not be a decorative element, but must be introduced in the first design of the project.” De Pineda cited some structures: the Monopoli-Fasano hospital in Puglia, the Barcelona Sea hospital, the Maritime hospital of Oza (Garizia), “where there are works of art, where there is a cultural value and where the vegetation demands its prominence in architecture”, he added.

Designing a green hospital means focusing on sustainability, especially energy sustainability. Given that the healthcare system contributes 3.5% to CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. “Spending in our healthcare companies during 2021 had an impact of 1.3% on production costs, it jumped to 2.3%, effectively reaching 3.2 billion euros with a +80% compared to the costs of the past due to the increases in energy prices and the increase in inflation – explained Alessandro Caltagirone, vice president of Fiaso – As Fiaso we launched an appeal to the ministries of Economy and Health and something has moved in terms of coverage: they have been two decrees issued in 2022 which provided coverage of 1.6 billion euros compared to cost increases. We have energy-intensive buildings – he reiterated – and machinery that is always active, very energy-intensive areas such as diagnostic imaging, intensive care and operating rooms Departments where air exchange and a constant temperature must be guaranteed, there are equipment that can never be turned off.”

Like Fiaso “we promote a green approach in the management of hospitals, even in those that are 100 years old where, however, it is clearly more difficult. The interventions are structural and are also foreseen in some measures of the Pnrr. In May 2022, the presidency of the Council of Ministers has published a handbook for public administrations on energy efficiency, let’s think about the attention paid to contracts for energy performance, aimed at all public administrations to obtain higher levels of energy efficiency. They are contracts – explains Caltagirone – which allow interventions of specialized service companies and envisage a public-private synergy to achieve objectives in the short term. Experiences in this field have led some healthcare companies to reduce consumption by over 30% compared to historical consumption.”

In the green and sustainable hospital that respects emissions, internal and external materials play a role. “In Monopoli we respected the landscape with the olive trees which are almost in scale with the two floors of the building – concludes De Pineda – The wood for the exteriors which also covers the technical area building. Attention to materials can really make the inside of hospitals closer to the person, less cold and repellent”.