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July 1, 2022

Comparative Analysis of Hospital Energy Use: Pacific Northwest and Scandinavia

Burpee, Heather; McDade, Erin. (2014). Comparative Analysis of Hospital Energy Use: Pacific Northwest and Scandinavia. Health Environments Research & Design Journal (HERD) (Vendome Group LLC), 8(1), 20 – 44.

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OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to establish the potential for significant energy reduction in hospitals in the United States by providing evidence of Scandinavian operational precedents with high Interior Environmental Quality (IEQ) and substantially lower energy profiles than comparable U.S. facilities. These facilities set important precedents for design teams seeking operational examples for achieving aggressive energy and interior environmental quality goals. This examination of operational hospitals is intended to offer hospital owners, designers, and building managers a strong case and concrete framework for strategies to achieve exceptionally high performing buildings. BACKGROUND: Energy efficient hospitals have the potential to significantly impact the U.S.'s overall energy profile, and key stakeholders in the hospital industry need specific, operationally grounded precedents in order to successfully implement informed energy reduction strategies. This study is an outgrowth of previous research evaluating high quality, low energy hospitals that serve as examples for new high performance hospital design, construction, and operation. Through extensive interviews, numerous site visits, the development of case studies, and data collection, this team has established thorough qualitative and quantitative analyses of several contemporary hospitals in Scandinavia and the Pacific Northwest. Many Scandinavian hospitals demonstrate a low energy profile, and when analyzed in comparison with U.S. hospitals, such Scandinavian precedents help define the framework required to make significant changes in the U.S. hospital building industry. METHODS: Eight hospitals, four Scandinavian and four Pacific Northwest, were quantitatively compared using the Environmental Protection Agency's Portfolio Manager, allowing researchers to answer specific questions about the impact of energy source and architectural and mechanical strategies on energy efficiency in operational hospitals. RESULTS: Specific architectural, mechanical, and plant systems make these Scandinavian hospitals more energy efficient than their Pacific Northwest counterparts. More importantly, synergistic systems integration allows for their significant reductions in energy consumption. CONCLUSIONS: This quantitative comparison of operational Scandinavian and Pacific Northwest hospitals resulted in compelling evidence of the potential for deep energy savings in the U.S., and allowed researchers to outline specific strategies for achieving such reductions.


Environmental Quality; Energy Consumption; Health Facility Design & Construction; Comparative Studies; Energy Consumption In Hospitals; Pacific Northwest; Scandinavia; Built Environment; Case Study; Design Process; Healthcare Facility Design; Hospital; Post Occupancy