Take 5 With CO Architects’ Fabian Kremkus

Photo credit: Beth Coller.

In this series, Sanitary design asks leading healthcare design professionals, companies and owners to tell us what stands out to them and share insights on the topic.

Fabian Kremkus is a team leader in the healthcare, interior design, and civic and cultural disciplines at CO Architects (The Angels). Here, he shares his insights into using technology to move healthcare toward net zero emissions.

  1. Using modern central plant technology to move healthcare toward net zero emissions

To help address hospitals’ energy consumption and operational carbon, CO Architects and partners such as tk1scThe engineering team at is leveraging the equipment’s technology to design future healthcare facilities as close to net zero as possible. California leads the nation in all-electric legislation, and some health care projects are responding. For example, the current CO Architects project UCI Health-Irvine (UCIH-I) adjacent to the University of California, Irvine campus, features an all-electric central plant utilizing heat recovery chillers and heat pumps. This design eliminates gas boilers, allowing them to operate without burning fossil fuels. As the grid becomes greener, this facility makes the most of California’s energy infrastructure. Additionally, we are challenging heat pump manufacturers to create higher capacity systems for easier integration into large projects.

A design feature of UCIH-I that reduces embodied carbon is the use of the lightest possible structural steel framing system while meeting California’s stringent seismic standards for facilities receiving hospital care. We chose a Buckle Restrained Brace (BRB) system, which uses considerably less steel compared to side plate moment frame systems. The structure is the largest contributor to a building’s embodied carbon footprint. Therefore, the UCIH-I team strived to save weight and increase structural efficiency as much as possible.

The lesson learned here is that a fully integrated design team consisting of the structural engineer, architects, steel contractor and fabricator, and medical planner is needed from the beginning to integrate a BRB system into the building. The disadvantage is less future flexibility: reinforcements could limit the interior layout.

  1. Biophilia strategies that provide healing environments

As we know, through evidence-based design, access and connections to nature improve healing outcomes. In addition to prioritizing relaxing exterior views for patients and staff through features like full-height glazing (reducing lighting energy), we see naturally lit pre-operative and recovery units as a trend in healthcare design. patient. Another design priority is to include interior color palettes that use natural tones combined with earthy materials such as stone and wood to blur the line between indoors and outdoors. Landscaping and plants can also be deliberately chosen to achieve relaxing views and aromas. At UCIH-I, the site is planned to prioritize outdoor access and pedestrian flow, including a central plaza, elevated car-free terraces, strategic plantings, canopies, benches, informal seating, a meditation area, a café, and a terrace to eat. . The project’s location also allows recovering patients, visitors and staff to access acres of outdoor space adjacent to the San Joaquin Marsh Nature Preserve, without inhibitions to vehicular movement.

  1. Using design to give back to communities

As a profession, designers of healing environments are hard-pressed to ignore the challenges that exist on a global scale, from the wildfires on Maui to the war in Ukraine. In response, healthcare design professionals should look for opportunities to use their design skills to give back and make a difference. For example, our firm is working with nonprofit organizations. Sail to the shelter reuse sails from retired yachts and turn them into emergency shelters.

  1. Create features to promote community participation

Particularly for healthcare projects in underserved areas, designers should consider forward-thinking design solutions, including public areas that engage the community by hosting events: vaccination programs, nutrition education, art exhibits, and farmers markets, for example. name a few. Large healthcare providers are also adopting these features in their facilities, regardless of location. California has a high percentage of residents who lack health insurance. To help destigmatize the act of seeking medical care, we are incorporating features such as central plazas, which serve as flexible public spaces that can host community events. They also help galvanize neighborhood participation and support for healthcare projects by removing barriers, making the community feel like a partner in the process. As designers, we must consider how we can engage the public to best accommodate events that bring people together both outdoors and indoors.

  1. Pandemic Preparedness Drives Design Approaches

Healthcare spaces and their designs will continue to be affected by changing demands and constantly evolving challenges, such as pandemics and natural disasters: earthquakes, fires, floods and hurricanes as prime examples. It is up to us to design facilities that can accommodate sudden influxes of people. Additionally, the pandemic increased demand for telehealth services and also spurred a rethinking of how facilities should be designed to adapt to the next pandemic. Among those preparedness strategies, clients are requesting air systems that fully utilize outside air to address the transmission of airborne infections, utility-accessible outdoor areas for triage tents, outdoor waiting areas for inpatients, and outpatient clinics, and more acuity-friendly patient rooms to minimize patient risk. movement and exposure.

Do you want to share your Top 5? Contact Editor-in-Chief Tracey Walker at tracey.walker@emeraldx.com for shipping instructions.

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