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18 October 2022

Three new hospitals to be built across Greece as part of the SNF Health Initiative will pilot a new framework of zero-carbon readiness in collaboration with leading sustainability certifiers.

When complete, the three new hospitals being developed across Greece through the Stavros Niarchos Foundation’s (SNF) global Health Initiative aim at delivering excellent care to the public, and they are already piloting excellence in sustainability. Following a vision shared with the Renzo Piano Building Workshop and Betaplan, the architects designing the hospitals, SNF is partnering with the U.S. Green Building Council to develop a zero-carbon-readiness framework that can be used to guide future new-built projects toward zero-carbon operation.

“’Do no harm’ is a core tenet of health ethics, and when building new hospitals, we can’t exclude from this the young people and future generations who will be disproportionately affected by climate change,” said SNF Co-President Andreas Dracopoulos. “Building truly people-centric health care infrastructure means doing things that may have never been done before, planning ahead so that when the future arrives, we are ready to meet the moment.”

The groundbreaking new framework is being developed in tandem with three new SNF hospitals whose design seeks to go beyond the specifications of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification at the Platinum level: the SNF University Pediatric Hospital of Thessaloniki, the SNF General Hospital of Komotini, and the SNF General Hospital of Sparta. This effort to set new zero-carbon standards—like the SNF Health Initiative as a whole—is one built on international collaboration.

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), which developed the LEED certification program, will provide support in developing a framework of standards that must be met to achieve zero-carbon readiness. Alongside USGBC, Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI) will assess projects’ implementation of the LEED framework to certify that their design achieves its sustainability goals. Arc Skoru Inc. will provide know-how and tools to manage, measure, analyze, score, and communicate real-world performance data to ensure building efficiency. These three organizations have joined SNF, assisted by sustainability consultant DCarbon, in signing a memorandum of understanding with the goal of piloting a framework to recognize newly constructed buildings that meet requirements to operate as zero-carbon facilities. Each of the many parties involved in the projects, from the contractors to the architects, will be part of the collaborative effort.

“USGBC’s mission is to transform how our buildings are designed, constructed and operated. As climate-related goals grow increasingly more urgent, the green building community is setting its sights on zero,” said Peter Templeton, president, and CEO at USGBC, GBCI, and Arc. “We are proud to partner with SNF on its zero-carbon goals and applaud its commitment to green buildings.”

The Renzo Piano Building Workshop (RPBW) has been a driving force behind this push to light a path toward a zero-carbon future. Collaborating with SNF through the Foundation’s largest single grant to date, RPBW designed the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC) in Athens as the first cultural project of its scale in Europe to achieve LEED Platinum, an important milestone for Greece and beyond when it opened in 2016.

“Excellence in medicine demands excellence in hospital design. Today hospitals not only need to be efficient instruments for healing but need to create an internal ambience conducive to ‘wellbeing,’ and incorporate sustainable solutions that respond to the fragility of our global environment,” said Olaf de Nooyer, Associate Architect at RPBW. “We hope we are headed for a world where sustainability considerations will be baked into every building from the beginning, not limited by current capabilities but envisioning what will be possible in the future. By embodying a new zero-carbon-readiness framework, these new hospitals are helping take us there.”

That hospitals are serving as models for the new standards is particularly significant. Hospitals run around the clock and must have reliable and uninterrupted supply of electricity to guarantee the safety of patients, making them demanding energy consumers. Future zero-carbon operation of the SNF hospitals would both provide a model for addressing an outsized source of emissions and demonstrate the feasibility of setting ambitious sustainability goals even for difficult and complex projects.

The design of the new SNF hospitals includes features intended to help them operate sustainably. The SNF General Hospital of Komotini, for instance, will be built with a superstructure of mass timber, which can help sequester carbon rather than producing it; photovoltaic panels on the roof that will be able to produce 1.6 megawatts of electricity, meeting nearly a fifth of the hospital’s energy needs; and geothermal support for almost all the facility’s heating and cooling operations.

In addition, operations at all three SNF hospitals will be paperless, helping reduce their carbon footprint.

“Hospitals are meant to cure the fragile. These hospitals take care of people, and our planet,” said architect Renzo Piano.