Sustainability in Health Design

Friday, November 25, 2022 11:22 | Alison Huynh (Administrator)

By Garry Coff

Health Facility Planner at Garry Coff Consulting Services– Sustainability in Health Design. As an architect, Garry Coff has been involved with health design for decades. During this podcast, Garry sits down with AHDC to discuss the importance of sustainable health design what the future of ‘green’ buildings will look like. From Adelaide, Garry has worked across the globe and has been able to evolve his designs based on current economic, political and climate requirements.

Born and educated in Broken Hill, I moved to Sydney to study and qualify as an Architectural Technician at almost exactly the time of the Mainline Constructions collapse. This collapse left the city with many new, empty multi-storey buildings to be tenanted by a large number of American business organisations seeking to set up in Australia (including Honeywell, IBM & General Electric, etc.).

I learned about workflow planning with these projects before moving to South Australia in 1980. Here I broke into the Health Design market as a Project Officer on a major health redevelopment Project in Adelaide. This project was designed by Woods Bagot in collaboration with Lawrence Neild & Partners.

I moved on from that project and joined the SA Health Commission, where I was exposed to many rural hospitals that had mostly been built in the mid 50’s to early 60’s. These that were based on UK concepts, all expecting to grow to 400-bed facilities – but never reached more than between 50 to 200-beds. They were generally providing community support to populations that worked hard, lived hard and needed to be propped up to get clear of the booze – patients were given nutritious food and safe sleeping accommodation for a couple of weeks to regain their health so that could get back to work.

These facilities were pretty extravagant and demonstrates the optimism of the community’s expectation for growth of population and industry – they had Kitchens designed to feed a warship with big boiler systems and massive air conditioning plant, and Laundries large enough to support the whole Regional populations.

During the 1980’s sustainability started to become a design issue, but it really kicked off in the 2000’s when ‘design for purpose’ started and included steps to curb these extravagancies and address operating costs.

Hospitals invariably require a lot of external wall and many windows, so major gains can be realised from simple orientation and shading – a little less concern about the view and some focus on the cost of operation will benefit the quality of the accommodation and reduce energy consumption. There is so much to be gained from basic principles and even more that can be gained from simplifying engineering components. Australians love a challenge, and we went through a lot of projects where we felt the need to compete with nature to achieve an acceptable outcome. We were encouraged to believe that you can build an igloo in the middle of a desert – Dubai is an excellent example of this – enough money and it is all possible. There are a lot of examples around now that demonstrate attitudes are changing.

I have a client that wants to build a Passive Health building. He has secured an ideal site in the middle of an ‘Innovation Development Precinct’ in Adelaide – this building is 4-storey Medical Centre that will effectively run on the smell of a ‘disinfection cloth’. It comprises a 4-OR Surgical Procedure Suite, a floor of General Practice Consulting (Melanoma Diagnosis) and dermatology and cancer treatments, Specialist Consulting Suites, Day Hospital and on-site Medical Imaging (MRI, CT Scanning, Ultrasound and Fluoroscopy), Pathology, Dentist and Pharmacy.

The building is designed as a completely sealed building with controlled air management that will be clad with Solar panels and water distribution through the structure to maintain a set temperature of, say, 22 degrees Celsius 24/7.