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Delivering climate-resilient healthcare environments

Against the backdrop of continuing concerns over global warming, Geoff Southern, associate director, Buildings, and Out-of-hospital Care lead (UK) at Arcadis IBI Group, considers some of the key potential ways to make healthcare buildings more adaptable and resilient to climate extremes, and to reduce the environmental impact of both the facilities themselves, and the plant and equipment needed to keep them fully functional, providing optimal care, day in, day out.

As the impact of climate change continues to unfold globally, extreme weather is here to stay – whether in the form of new temperature highs and lows, precipitation patterns, flooding, storms, or wind. The UK experienced its warmest year ever in 2022, highlighted by the red weather warning issued in the summer as a result of recordbreaking 40 °C heat. The year before, a series of heatwaves claimed 1,634 lives – one of the highest numbers since the Heatwave Plan for England was launched in 2014. There are also occurrences of serious flooding that are causing damage and disruption to many communities nationwide.

Worsening conditions anticipated

Worryingly, experts are anticipating that conditions will continue to worsen, leading to even higher potential mortality rates. According to a Met Office report, UK Climate Projections: Headline Findings, published in August 2022, current climate change trends will lead to drier, hotter summers, and wetter, warmer winters across the UK – with temperatures during the summer months likely to be 3.8 °C to 6.8 °C higher by 2070. Incrementally increasing temperatures and other extreme weather episodes will start to have an even greater impact on public health, and will take a bigger toll – both operationally and financially – on the health system itself. The extremes of last summer demonstrated the severe associated risks of heat, which are especially acute for the most vulnerable in society, including older adults, people with disabilities, and those recovering in hospital.

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Upcoming Events

Futurebuild 2024

ExCeL, London
5th - 7th March 2024

The Fire Safety Event 2024

National Exhibition Centre (NEC), Birmingham
30th April - 2 May 2024

Wales regional conference, exhibition and awards dinner 2024

International Conference Centre (ICC) Newport
28th - 29th May 2024

NAHFO National Conference 2024

Crowne Plaza Newcastle Upon Tyne
3rd - 5th June 2024

Design in Mental Health 2024

Manchester Central
4th - 5th June 2024

InstallerSHOW 2024

National Exhibition Centre (NEC), Birmingham
25th - 27th June

Access the latest issue of Health Estate Journal on your mobile device together with an archive of back issues.

Download the FREE Health Estate Journal app from your device's App store

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