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, the costs associated with maintaining facilities which operate 24hrs a day, places an increased demand on existing grids. The increase in the cost of these amenities filters down to the end user groups, who cannot afford to keep paying more for electricity and water. Applying strategies for on-site energy product ion insulates against these rising costs, and allows greater resilience against climate change.
Implementing sustainable principles not only benefits operation costs and the environment, it also has significant effects on the wellbeing of the building users.
Many independent studies have shown that in designing space to make effective use of natural light, decreases the level of stress and agitation in residents, and particularly in those living with dementia. What’s more, 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 in recovery from depressive illnesses. These effects are also increased when natural light is paired with access to established views of nature.
The use of light is just one consideration in sustainable design. When looking specifically at design in aged care, the most important areas for reducing energy consumption include:
Introducing natural ventilation options such as cross ventilation, and strategic window and vent placement
Setting air-conditioning systems to efficient temperatures and maintaining the systems to improve efficiency and productivity
Regularly checking insulation and duct work for leaks and adopt insulation techniques such as weather stripping doors and windows, heat recovery systems and fitting retro fit insulation
- Incorporating eaves and outdoor shutters into designs
- Utilising motion sensors for lighting
- Ensuring the laundry system is energy efficient
- Ensure refrigeration, cooling and heating equipment are located in optimal positions, are well kept and well insulated
- Insulating the walls, floors and ceilings and installing ceiling fans in rooms to optimise temperature control
- Installing solar panels and consolidated heating units
- Strategically positioning buildings and trees for shade
Through 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 user.