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Award for hospital with wind turbine

A HOSPITAL which uses wind energy to power its wards and operating theatres has won the Green Building of the Year award for 1994.

Wansbeck hospital, near Ashington, in Northumberland, which consumes only half the energy of a conventional new hospital, receives almost one-tenth of its energy from its own 100-kilowatt wind turbine.

The pounds 25m hospital, completed last year, is the fruit of a 10-year research programme by the Department of Health aimed at reducing energy use in the health service. It has been described as a 'building in a plastic bag' - a reference to the continuous airtight membrane in the walls which forms a key part of its energy-saving strategy.

The award, sponsored by the Heating and Ventilating Contractors' Association and the Independent on Sunday, was presented to the hospital's designers, the London- based architects Powell Moya, at the Natural History Museum, London, last night.

The judges also highly commended the Sheiling Community Centre at Ringwood in Hampshire, a low-tech 'cabin-in-the- woods' designed by the Bath architects Feilden Clegg. The centre uses organic principles of architecture and natural woods and finishes to create a 'therapeutic' environment for 250 mentally handicapped young people.

Wansbeck's aim is to cut energy usage by 50 per cent and within a year of completion it is on target, achieving savings in the 'low 40s'. A polythene membrane around the building cuts draughts by 85 per cent, reducing the number of air changes inside from 2.5 an hour to 0.3 an hour. Temperatures inside can thus be kept three or four degrees lower than a conventional hospital.

The design also makes the most of solar gain, with large windows on first-floor wards giving views over the surrounding countryside.

Coupled with a roof profile which was tested under an artificial sky, this means that natural daylight penetrates deep into the structure, cutting down the need for artificial light.

Patients also enjoy the other main 'healing' feature - the internal courtyards which include herb gardens, ponds and fountains.

The site is exposed to harsh winds and was landscaped to create a protective dell near the entrance, channelling the winds over the top of the building.

There are only two lifts in the hospital: people use stairs instead, saving energy and promoting personal health. It also employs a full- time energy manager.

The award, in its third year, is also supported by the Royal Institute of British Architects, the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers and the Building Services Research and Information Association.

(Photograph omitted)