Fifield lomas Renganathan Allinson B&E New hospital wards.pdf (6.16 MB)
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Hospital wards and modular construction: Summertime overheating and energy efficiency

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journal contribution
posted on 18.02.2021, 12:18 by Louis-James Fifield, Kevin LomasKevin Lomas, Renganathan Giridharan, David AllinsonDavid Allinson
The UK National Health Service (NHS) is continually under pressure to provide more bed spaces and to do this within a tight budget. Therefore, NHS Trusts may turn to modular buildings, which promise faster construction and low energy demands helping the NHS meet its stringent energy targets. However, there is growing evidence that thermally lightweight, well insulated and naturally ventilated dwellings are at risk of overheating during warm UK summers. This paper examines the energy demands and internal temperatures in two 16-bed hospital wards built in 2008 at Bradford Royal Infirmary in northern England using modular fast track methods. The two-storey building used ceiling-mounted radiant panels and a mix of natural and mechanical ventilation with heat recovery to condition patients' rooms. Monitoring showed that the annual energy demand was 289 kWh/m2±16%, which is below the NHS guidelines for new hospital buildings. It was observed that the criterion given in Department of Health Technical Memorandum HTM03-01 can lead to the incorrect diagnosis of overheating risk in existing buildings. Assessment using other static and adaptive overheating criteria showed that patient rooms and the nurses' station overheated in summer. To maintain patient safety, temporary air conditioning units had to be installed during the warmest weather. It is concluded that thermally lightweight, well insulated, naturally ventilated hospital wards can be low energy but are at risk of overheating even in relatively cool UK summer conditions and that this needs to be addressed before such buildings can be recommended for wider adoption.


This work was conducted as part of a doctoral research project pursued within the London-Loughborough Centre for Doctoral Research in Energy Demand. The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council funding for the Centre is gratefully acknowledged (Grant EP/ H009612/1). The project was aligned with work undertaken at part of the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council project, ‘Design and Delivery of Robust Hospital Environments in a Changing Climate’ (EP/G061327/1), which was funded through the Adaptation and Resilience to a Changing Climate programme.



  • Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering

Published in

Building and Environment




28 - 44


FIFIELD, L-J. al., 2018. Hospital wards and off-site modular construction: Summertime overheating and energy efficiency. Building and Environment, 141, pp. 28-44.


© The Authors. Published by Elsevier


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