Sustainable design in aged care

January 6, 2015 | Assessment and Optimisation

Sustainability has become something of a hot topic in recent years across a significant number of business sectors.

Aged care is just one of these areas and sustainability is certainly going to prove necessary as the elderly population expands. This will mean creating aged care facilities that are adapted to local environments and foster healthy living for residents.

But what are the considerations when it comes to aged care sustainability, specifically within facilities?

Maximising quality of life

Indoor environment quality (IEQ) is critical to the well-being of aged care facility residents, as it takes into account the level of daylight and air pollutants, as well as the comfort of an interior based on factors like temperature and humidity.

Obviously, facilities with good ratings provide a greater level of comfort for residents and consequently a higher quality of life.

Mary Casey, speaking to Australian Ageing Agenda earlier this year, explained that it's necessary to think beyond individual components when developing sustainable facilities and consider the entire system.

"Let's say you want to have good daylight in a space, and to achieve that result with no glare, your architect has proposed a light shelf as part of the design," Ms Casey said.

"This component in the facade will bounce light up onto the ceiling, bringing bright, diffuse daylight deeper into the space than the window could on its own. It will also shade the window in summer, reducing radiant heat coming into the building."

She noted that a shelf alone would look like an additional cost, but when it's thought of in the context of the wider facility it's easy to see the benefits.

As the shelf bounces pollution-free light into the room there's no need for as many light fixtures, which in turn means less internal heat. Air conditioning can then be turned down as heat is less of an issue.

This way of thinking can be applied to entire aged care facilities and it's certainly necessary for sustainability considerations.

Looking ahead

With aged care a growing sector, new facilities must be designed and built with sustainability in mind. The above shelf example illustrates the type of thinking required in the industry moving forward. Certainly, sustainability will be crucial in keeping costs down.

What do you think are the biggest opportunities for success in the aged care industry today? Please contact us and let us know!