Sustainable design in the aged care and retirement living sectors has the potential to dramatically reduce the financial burden of energy consumption and improve the health and wellbeing of building users.
With the growing demand for aged care and retirement living, centres are facing increasing costs to maintain the 24-hour facilities. The increased usage of amenities isn’t just a financial burden, but also an environmental one; with electricity, gas and water in increased demand.
Implementing sustainable principles not only benefits operation costs and the environment, it also has significant effects on the well being of the building users.
Sustainability for New Facilities
When the team at SPH Architecture + Interiors look at retirement village design for a new facility, we take into account all aspects of the design, from the facing-direction of a building, how much natural light can be seen, the potential temperature inside due to building materials and insulation, shade on the outside of the building and more. These aspects all have an impact on the sustainability of the building in the long-term.
Benefits of Sustainable Design
Quality of Life
Other than the obvious benefit of decreased power bills, many independent studies have shown that the effective use of natural light within aged care facilities lead to decreases in stress levels and agitation in residents, particularly in those living with dementia.
Evidence also suggests access to daylight in residential rooms sees a reduction in the request for pain relief, and an increase in overall mood and recovery of patients with depressive illnesses. These effects are also increased when natural light is paired with access to established views of nature.
The use of sunlight is just one consideration in sustainable design. When looking specifically at aged care facility design, the most important areas for reducing energy consumption include:
- Introducing natural ventilation options such ventilation by convection – this occurs when hot air rises and draws in cooler air to replace it. Convection air movement can help to naturally remove the heat from a building, but it can only work if the building can draw cool area from lower areas (low wall vents) or directly below the building. Facilities can create cool air by shading external spaces to trees, shade sails or other means.
- Using external verandas around the perimeter of a building helps to shade the external walls of a building and reduce heat gain. The shade area also creates cool air as mentioned above and helps reduce the overall thermal mass.
- Incorporating eaves and outdoor shutters into designs, as well as E- solar or similar glass in windows and doors can harness cool breezes and air movement throughout the building, creating a naturally cooler environment.
- Utilising motion sensors for lighting, as well as automated lighting control.
- Ensuring the laundry system is energy efficient, using as little water and power as possible.
- Ensuring refrigeration, cooling and heating equipment are located in optimal positions, are well kept and well insulated.
- Installing insulation, solar panels and consolidated heating units.
- Installing rainwater takes to collect water for irrigation and where suitable, toilet flushing.
Designing buildings with sustainable principles in mind, architects are able to utilise new sustainable principles for energy saving purposes, and to ensure the built environment has a positive impact on building users.
If you are looking to develop or revitalise an aged care facility, look no further than the team at SPH architecture + interiors.