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10 July 2014

Turkish hospital retrofitting makes sustainable energy use case study

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A hospital in Aydin, Turkey, will serve as a test case to demonstrate that it is possible to reduce its energy consumption by 50%, and decrease greenhouse gas emissions, with retrofitting solutions

Three public non-residential buildings will be revamped during the next four years in three countries with different climates; namely in Turkey, Belgium and Spain. If proved successful, the experiment developed under the BRICKER EU-funded project will be extended further afield. Yunus Çengel, dean of the faculty of engineering at the Adnan Menderes University, in Aydin, Turkey, and one of the partners in the project, tells how he intends to renovate a hospital in Aydin in order to make it much more energy efficient. 

What are your expectations in terms of energy reduction?
Our estimate is that the energy bill of the hospital will decrease by half. For the time being we waste a lot of energy through the building envelope, as a result of heat gains in summer and heat loss in winter. We currently do not integrate any renewable energy. After retrofitting, we expect to have the same comfort levels in the building, using 50% less energy. 

To achieve this objective and to reduce the air-conditioning load in summer, we will install solar films on the East and West-facing windows, and solar shades on South-facing windows. Besides, we will install sun-tracking parabolic solar collectors, which concentrate the solar radiation on a tube and heat the fluid flowing through it to 250°C/-30°C. This hot fluid will then be used for tri-generation; namely to produce hot water, to provide chilled water for the air-conditioning via absorption cooling technology and to generate electricity from low-temperature heat using a so-called Organic Rankine Cycle unit. This means that the building will consume less electricity from the grid and will burn less natural gas.

In addition, we will install heat exchangers, allowing the incoming fresh cold air to be preheated by the outgoing stale heated air, without mixing each other. This helps reducing the amount of natural gas consumed in the burners. The heat exchangers will work conversely in summers, cutting down the energy amount used for air-conditioning. We will also incorporate variable speed drives on fans and compressors to reduce the electrical energy used by the motors of these devices.

Do the innovation techniques make the building more expensive than a new one, without retrofitting?
We expect the investments in energy saving technologies to be paid off within seven years. The payback period will be even shorter for new buildings. When the energy efficiency measures are installed from the beginning, we will spend less on thermal-comfort related equipment, such as furnaces, chillers, motors, fan-coil units and even ductwork. When you do retrofitting, the cost of new equipment simply adds up, which extends the length of the payback period.

When do the retrofitting in Aydin start?
We are likely to start the actual retrofitting by the end of 2014. During the first year, we will make measurements to accurately document the current energy use of the building. Meanwhile, we will prepare the public tenders. During monitoring the existing system, we will start installing the new technologies like the solar powered heating, cooling and electrical generation system. After the new systems have been brought on line, we will continue monitoring the retrofitted building’s energy performance. We will do this for another two years. This is the reason why the project takes four years. If the project was only about installations without monitoring, we could have done the whole work in two years.

What kind of barriers and bottlenecks do you have to deal with?
The public tenders are tedious and time-consuming processes. Sometimes, there are some objections from the participants, which can stop our work until they are all solved. So, potentially, this procedure could cause some difficulties and delays. However, we do not expect bottlenecks regarding the technical issues, because we use high quality technology and we are able to manage it very well. The other constraint is the limited budget. We are grateful to the Aydin Governorship for providing the local funds for this project.

Are other public buildings planning to replicate your work?
Healthcare is a major industry in Turkey. And there is great interest in this project from both public and private hospitals. For example, the rector of Gazi University in Ankara, which operates a university hospital with 1,000 beds and has 80,000 students, is very interested in our project. He stated that he will send a team to Aydin as soon as we finish the retrofitting work. 

He showed a great interest in replicating our state-of-the-art technologies to the hospital in his university in Ankara. It is twice as large as ours. I also expect other owners of public and private hospitals in Turkey to fully or partially use the technologies that we use here. I actually expect this project to be widely replicated in Turkey and abroad, because hospitals are one of the highest energy consuming buildings per square meter floor area. provides its content to all media free of charge. We would appreciate if you could acknowledge as the source of the content.