Leading the way: Fundació Sanitaria Mollet’s journey towards net zero emissions

Date:  27 March 2024

Background

Environmental sustainability is an important aspect in the FSM’s institutional culture. The architectural design of the institution was based on the environmental and orographic features of the Gallecs Nature Reserve, (included in the Plan for Spaces of Special Natural Interest of Catalonia) an outstanding protected forest and agricultural area in the Vallès region. Additionally, the FSM’s logo features an ancient oak tree that has been carefully preserved and incorporated into the building. Furthermore, the design also incorporated systems and methods for the sustainable use of water and a clear commitment to renewable energy and energy efficiency. The FSM continues to maintain and reinforce its culture of environmental respect, biodiversity, energy efficiency, and sustainability. Its commitment is reflected in its values, reinforced by various quality certifications and national and international awards.

Solution proposed

Fundació Sanitària Mollet has implemented several significant initiatives to minimize its environmental impact.

  • Natural courtyards have been integrated into the architectural design to filter natural light into all rooms, resulting in a 40% reduction in light consumption and a reduction of 280,000 kg of CO2 emissions.
  • Gravel and plant rooftops improve thermal insulation and acoustic comfort.
  • Radiant ceilings serve as an energy-efficient air conditioning system.
  • Rainwater is collected in an 80m3 water tank to water the courtyards, which reduced annual water consumption from 39,000 to 26,000m3 over a decade.
  • Geothermal energy from 148 wells, each 146 meters deep, reduced the air conditioning energy consumption by 30%. This is one of the largest projects of its kind in Europe.
  • Since 2017, the FSM achieved the goal of sourcing 100% of its electricity consumption from renewable energy sources.
  • The FSM has increased the waste types it manages. These went from 9 to 29, and recycling and waste management continues to be a priority.
  • The installation of 1,368 solar panels on a 6,500m2 area has resulted in a saving of 120 tons of CO2 emissions and provides 12.5% of the hospital’s overall energy needs

Success factors and challenges

The strong commitment and involvement of its senior managers and process leaders has permeated throughout the hospital’s employees, including external personnel, establishing a culture of environmental responsibility.

The main external barriers have been budgetary, as the hospital provides a public service with a public budget, and a lack of incentives from the public healthcare system in Catalonia and Spain to implement environmental improvement actions in healthcare facilities.

For this reason, the analysis of indicators has been essential to prioritize actions with the greatest impact to reduce CO2 emissions as quickly as possible, as well as to plan those actions that could not be implemented in the current year. This is why it was determined that there is a need to establish a pathway to total Net Zero, with quantifiable strategic objectives and specific actions to be carried out.

Expected impact and vision of the project

SM’s project is dedicated to social responsibility and environmental sustainability, and seeks to have an impact by:

  • reducing energy demand through the use of cost-effective, recyclable materials and energy-efficient facilities;
  • contributing to the well-being and privacy of individuals by designing a building that promotes patient recovery and improved health, rehabilitation, and welfare;
  • becoming a pioneer in designing a hospital that maximizes the use of space by using a circulatory structure, natural light, green courtyards, views of nature, optimal acoustic and spatial conditions, as well as good heating;
  • achieving energy efficiency savings and maintaining them over time;
  • cultivating an institutional sustainable culture by promoting an environmentally conscious outlook and strategy; and
  • becoming a reference point regarding the rational use of scarce resources, respect for the environment, and energy efficiency.

Health equity

The FSM is deeply committed to social responsibility and has always sought to guarantee health equity. An integral part of the FSM’s mission is to focus its efforts on people. In addition to an energy and environmental management system, the FSM has a health promotion management system, which contributes to improving health, well-being and safety of professionals and the whole community in an equitable way.

Minimizing the environmental impact of the FSM is not only essential to face the climate emergency but also a key element to promote people’s wellbeing by reducing the effects of climate change in human health. The FSM has made sure that health professionals are aware of their potential as change agents.

Co-benefits

The primary feature of the hospital building’s design is the placement of courtyards to provide natural light and ventilation to workspaces, consultation rooms, and wards throughout the year. This is an essential aspect for the well-being of occupants, as they prefer natural light over artificial lighting. Moreover, these courtyards feature native Mediterranean greenery, providing a sense of familiarity and comfort for users and patients.

The landscaped roofs and internal courtyards also attract different bird species that take advantage of these spaces to rest and even nest close to the rural landscape. This design prioritizes the privacy and well-being of people and contributes to the recovery, rehabilitation, and improvement of patients’ health and welfare.

Furthermore, exposure to natural light and greenery has been linked to improved mental health, reduced stress levels, and faster recovery times, demonstrating the potential for these design aspects to offer health co-benefits for patients and staff alike.

Written by:

Victoria Del Pozo