Occupancy Analytics: A fundamentally new approach to hospital design

Published on Wednesday, 09 November 2011 14:03
Posted by Scott Buckler

Estates Directors, Hospital Planners, Facility Managers, and Procurement teams are being increasingly challenged to obtain better use from their built assets and to substantially reduce carbon emissions

Yet their ability to address these challenges is hindered by out of date building standards, formulaic design principles and a desperate lack of accurate facility performance data. Without a sound evidence base, attempts to drive efficiency into all parts of the design, procurement and operation of hospital facilities are inevitably compromised.

The contrast between medicine with its strong evidence base; informed by comprehensive data and research, could not be starker when compared to the planning of the built environment. The built environment sector has a poor history of collecting an assimilating In-Use performance data. All too often hospital estate teams have little alternative but to rely on anecdotal advice supported by scant empirically based evidence. It is out of this need, that The Conclude Consultancy Limited developed a new science called ‘Occupancy Analytics’.

Occupancy Analytics


Occupancy Analytics informs a whole new approach to hospital design including space requirements and utilisation forecasting. Most importantly
it is also a major enabler to optimising low carbon performance.Set in the context of the common disparity between planned carbon performance
and the actual achieved performance in buildings, Occupancy Analytics resolves the conflicts that lead to this disparity. In recent years this disparity has been widely commented upon. For example in 2006, the National Audit office expressed concern that 80% of the HM government estate was failing to perform to the required energy performance standards. With the continuing failure of a large proportion of buildings to deliver low carbon performance, which is a particular challenge for the NHS Estate, the Governments targets for a low carbon economy will be placed in severe jeopardy.

The Conclude Consultancy has analysed the reasons for this disparity and have identified that it is the assumptions concerning how the building will be occupied and used that is the fundamental cause of this problem. These assumptions have a profound effect on the engineering systems design and lead to the over sizing of ventilation and chiller plant which in turn lead to unnecessary capital operating expenditure, and excessive carbon emissions.
Occupancy Analytics dramatically improves the briefing for new hospital facilities, (be they refurbishments or new developments). The process assimilates information from Operational Policies which establishes how facilities are planneto be operated “In-Use” and transforms that information into data. This data is stored in a unique database of functional processes, process variables, clinical resources and constraints. The data is used to drive a simulation engine, so that we can provide the data required to both plan and engineer the facility.

Key benefits

Occupancy Analytics impacts every stage of the process from the planning of a facility, specifying requirements, advising on engineering standards, sustainable procurement, to In-Use operations.

1. Planning and forecasting accommodation requirements
2. Challenging the requirements for accommodation
3. Forecasting occupancy for engineering design
4. Challenging ventilation and cooling plant capacity
5. Forecasting the amount of imaging equipment required.
6. Forecasting of equipment utilisation.
7. Setting the requirements for the building controls configuration.
8. Optimising facility use with best low carbon performance.

The NHS Sustainability Development Unit observes that carbon emissions from the NHS Estate have to fall, in real terms, by at least 80% if the NHS is to achieve the government carbon reduction target. It is clear that ‘business as usual’ is no longer a responsible option. A fundamentally new approach to the planning, design and procurement of our facilities must take place. We believe that Occupancy Analytics should be at the heart of the strategy striving for low carbon emissions from the estate.

 

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