Operation Passive House ClinicRubber boots and spades stood ready for a special premiere: Work has started on the world’s first Passive House hospital in the Höchst district of Frankfurt. The previous clinic will be replaced by a new Passive House building with ten operating theatres and 666 beds planned over six floors. The Passive House Institute has provided comprehensive support throughout the planning phase and will continue to do so during the building’s construction.

The energy demands of hospital buildings are significantly higher than other building types due to their 24-hour operation. At the groundbreaking ceremony, Stefan Grüttner, the Minister for Social Affairs of the state of Hesse, mentioned that the state of Hesse incurred annual energy costs of €3350 per hospital bed.

With this new construction, Klinikum Frankfurt Höchst intends to drastically reduce their running costs as well as optimise their internal operational procedures. “The basic intention of the Passive House concept, to significantly reduce the energy demand while providing improved comfort, is particularly worthwhile in the case of a hospital building. But special requirements must also be met”, explains Oliver Kah of the Passive House Institute. Among other things, special hygiene-related requirements apply for sensitive areas such as operating theatres. With regard to the room temperatures, patients perceive 23°C as comfortable.

On behalf of the federal government of the state of Hesse, Oliver Kah, together with his colleagues, investigated how the highly energy efficient Passive House construction method can be applied to a hospital clinic. These findings can also benefit the 2100 other hospitals in Germany, many of which are in need of refurbishment. The study showed that the equipment in the hospital has a major influence on the energy demand.

In conventional methods of energy balancing only the energy demand for heating, potable water, lighting and cooling is considered. In a clinic however, all building facilities and thus the demand from medical devices must also be taken into account. “If the building facilities are not considered, then planners will have neglected about half of the total energy demand of the clinic. Efficient devices cut down on energy and reduce the cooling demand at the same time,” explains Oliver Kah.

The city of Frankfurt has estimated that €240 million will be needed for the new Klinikum Frankfurt Höchst. The state of Hesse will contribute €46 million. “We will equip this highly complex special-use building with the latest technology and will thus be able to accommodate our objective of becoming a climate-neutral city by the year 2050”, states Rosemarie Heilig, Head of the Department for the Environment and Social Affairs in Frankfurt.

Klinikum Frankfurt Höchst is an institution delivering the highest level of care and is an academic teaching hospital of the Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University. Over 2000 employees care for around 36,000 in-patients and 80,000 out-patients each year. The new Passive House construction is due to be completed in the first half of 2019.