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Environmentally friendliness in aged care expands

With the industry in a time of change and transition, and with consumers expecting more out of their aged care, a number of aged care facilities are looking to energy-efficient installations and initiatives to create more resident-friendly and environmentally-friendly facilities.

Eco and environmentally friendly aged care builds are a growing trend (Source: Shutterstock)
Eco and environmentally friendly aged care builds are a growing trend (Source: Shutterstock)

As well as recognising the importance of environmentally friendly designs, the architecture sector is also noting an increase in the implementation of dementia-friendly design.

Melbourne based k20 Architecture’s Director Theodore Kerlidis, who has over 16 year’s experience delivering aged care projects and has collective experience in all facets of health and cared care including design for assisted, independent living and dementia facilities, has noted the environmentally-friendly efforts of the aged care industry.

“Aged care facilities are so important because they can have such an impact on the happiness and health of the residents who live there,” Mr Kerlidis explains.

“In the past there were a lot of stark aged care facilities being built, however the centres being delivered today are focused on the idea of creating a real sense of home for residents.

“Environmentally friendly and carbon neutral design has such a positive impact on not just the environment, but also on creating a healthier and more aware community.

“In the last five years especially, we have seen a conscious effort from our clients to move towards the design of environmentally sustainable facilities.

“Some of the more environmentally friendly additions we include within the design of our aged care facilities are the use of recycled materials, grey water harvesting, water wise garden settings, solar power, energy efficient equipment and maximised natural light and ventilation.

“People now realise that sustainable design not only benefits the planet, but if designed correctly also has the ability to lower maintenance and running costs.”

HammondCare is one of the most recent aged care providers to commit to a new ‘green initiative’ with the release of their Environmental Position Statement (EPS) which outlines a plan to achieve a 10 percent reduction in energy and waste by 2022.

The EPS also identifies focus areas including an asset renewal program, new staff training and awareness initiatives as well as the use of sustainable design principles in refurbishments and new developments.

Just as k20’s Mr Kerlidis says, Chief Executive of HammondCare, Dr Stephen Judd has also acknowledged that sustainability makes ‘good financial sense’.

“This is a strategic approach which will measure our environmental footprint and actively builds awareness across all areas of our operations,” Dr Judd says.

“Being wise with resources and reducing waste is consistent with our mission and promotes ongoing financial sustainability by reducing costs, meeting the expectations of our customers and minimising risk.”

HammondCare has already undertaken a number of steps to reduce environmental impact through the installation of solar panels, the adoption of ozone technology in laundries and the upgrade to LED lighting across their homes and offices.

Mr Kerlidis says he hopes that sustainable design will not just be a trend, but a mandatory feature within each aged care facility, and ideally, all buildings.

“With an increase in public awareness of sustainable design, this has resulted in clients wanting and requiring more in terms of sustainable design,” he says.

“We feel extremely positive that there has been such a strong shift in the view of the importance of environmentally friendly design within new build aged care facilities.”

As well as working on new build aged care facilities, k20 says it is common for them to work with pre-existing facilities and providers, like HammondCare, on being more environmentally friendly.

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