Patient health and safety enhanced at Qatar’s health centers with GSAS Operations certification
23 health centers across Qatar have been awarded with sustainable operations certification under the Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS).
Under the supervision of Public Works Authority ‘Ashghal’, a number of health centers representing Qatar’s Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) have been certified for sustainable operations following the Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS). All these facilities have received GSAS Operations certification with ratings of ‘SILVER and ‘GOLD from the Gulf Organisation for Research & Development (GORD). An award ceremony recognizing the achievement was held at Doha’s Hilton Hotel, in the presence of Dr Mariam Ali Abdulmalik, Managing Director of PHCC, Dr Yousef Alhorr, Founding Chairman of GORD, and senior leadership from PHCC and GORD.
Commenting on the sidelines of the event, Dr. Yousef Alhorr, Founding Chairman of GORD, said, “The global pandemic has amplified the importance of green buildings, especially in healthcare sector where sustainable operations can conserve resources while also improving patient care through safe indoor environment. Guided by Qatar Healthcare Facilities Master Plan (QHFMP) 2013 – 2033, the country has a clear framework to develop and upgrade its health infrastructure to address the growing challenges through sustainable mechanisms such as the implementation of GSAS Operations certification.”
Dr. Abdulmalik praised the achievement, saying that it builds on a series of milestones and successes achieved by PHCC over the past few years thanks to the efforts and dedication of its staff. Dr. Abdulmalik added, “The fact that 23 PHCC health centers have received ‘GOLD’ and ‘SILVER’ GSAS certification from GORD underlines the importance of the attention paid by the State of Qatar to environmental sustainability, hence PHCC’s commitment to being an integral part of the country’s plans in this field.”
As a part of PHCC’s commitment towards environmental sustainability and energy efficiency, a detailed assessment was performed by GSAS Trust and GORD Labs for PHCC’s 23 health centers for the purpose of obtaining GSAS Operations Certificate and to identify opportunities for saving energy and associated costs. Out of 23 health centers, 10 facilities are considered as new constructions as they have been in operational phase for less than 10 years, while the rest are older. It was observed that most of the newly built health centers achieved GSAS Operations ‘GOLD’ certification whereas most of the old types received ‘SILVER’ certification. This is due to the fact that the new buildings have been constructed according to GSAS Design & Build Certification requirements, which necessitated energy efficiency as a part of the basic design. On the other hand, the older health centers feature earlier generations lighting and HVAC systems that have suffered wear and tear, thereby reducing the facilities’ energy efficiency.
Almost all the health center buildings are equipped with packaged cooling units (PACU), variable refrigerant flow units (VRF) and DX type air handling units located on the roof. In all health center buildings, passive design elements have been incorporated with minimum glazing, window shadings and overhangs as well as strategically located skylights to bring in daylight into the buildings. Some of the health center buildings are additionally fitted with hybrid (solar and electric) domestic hot water system wherein the electric element acts only as a backup to the solar hot water system. Apart from energy and water efficiency, PHCC health centers were also assessed for indoor air quality parameters (such as thermal comfort, air quality, artificial lighting, daylighting and views, and acoustics), waste management, facility management and environmental policy and awareness. Following the detailed audit of each health center building, a comprehensive audit report was developed by GORD containing a list of recommendations for energy and water management opportunities as well as results of other GSAS Operations criteria as listed above. By highlighting the areas of improvement with estimates on potential energy and cost savings as well as the environmental benefits of upgrading to energy-efficient systems, the audit report provides a comprehensive action plan for facility operators.
By ensuring healthy indoor air quality among other green credentials, GSAS Operations certification for public buildings has become even more relevant in the time of COVID-19. According to the World Health Organization’s report titled Roadmap to improve and ensure good indoor ventilation in the context of COVID-19, ample ventilation across healthcare facilities can have a vital role in mitigating the risks of infections. This has meant that the spread of diseases, including COVID, can reasonably go down if healthcare buildings are characterized by good indoor environmental quality that includes sufficient ventilation, temperature control and moisture, etc. For PHCC health centers, all these areas along with energy and water efficiency have been assessed and validated by GORD’s sustainability experts during the course of desk reviews and site audits necessitated by GSAS-OP certification procedures.
Health centers certified under GSAS Operations scheme include Al Waab, Al Karaana, Al Thumama, Leghwairiya, Muaither, West Bay, Leabaib, Rawdat Al Khail, Al Wajbah, Omar Bin Khattab, Gharrafat Al Rayyan, Al Daayen, Al Rayyan, Mesaimeer, Al Jumailiya, Al Kabaan, Al Wakrah, Airport, Abu Nakhla, Qatar University, Al Sheehaniya, Umm Salal and Abu Baker Al Siddiq Health Centers. Many of these facilities were earlier certified under GSAS Design & Build scheme which evaluates the sustainability of newly constructed or majorly renovated buildings, districts and infrastructures.
Together with Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), PHCC health centers serve more than 90% of Qatar’s population. In this context, sustainability certification of health centers is expected to come with enhanced patient care for the residents.