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‘A business without green initiatives is not sustainable’

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Shivakumar N, Vice President – Facilities, Columbia Asia Hospitals speaks to Sanjiv Das on how they have managed to reduce their carbon footprint and how their entire team is becoming environmentally aware

What are top 3-4 initiatives your hospital/s have taken /are taking to reduce the environmental impact?

We have taken up initiatives like solar power for all our hospitals in Karnataka thus making our hospitals mostly running on renewable energy. Our hospitals are consuming approximately 14.5 million units from solar generation which is 90 per cent of the electricity consumption of Karnataka hospitals.

We have installed seven energy efficient water-cooled chillers with inbuilt VFD pumps which non-CFC gases as refrigerant in place of old reciprocating air cooled chillers. We have converted from 100 per cent CFL bulbs to LED in pan India hospitals.

Also, as a part of our initiative to reduce the environmental impact we have introduced heat pumps for hot water generation thus becoming 100 per cent fossil fuel free with respect to hot water generation. We have additionally introduced solar panels for hot water generation and PV solar panels for emergency lighting purposes. Our hospital uses ultrafiltration technology for reuse of treated STP water for flushing, cooling tower, floor cleaning and gardening by installing tertiary and quaternary treatments.

Recently, we were awarded with Green Operation Theatre certifications for best energy efficient and environment friendly technologies and materials used for operation theatres and organic waste converter for treating wet garbage in house and using it for gardening purposes.

Could you give us some indication of the cost of these initiatives?

The total cost of all the initiatives taken by the hospital is about Rs 8.79 crore. The chillers at all the unit’s cost Rs 4.5 crore. LED replacement for CFLs at a cost of Rs 3 crore for all the units.

Ultrafiltration systems have been installed for all units which cost Rs 54 lakh and another Rs 10 lakh extra for ultrafiltration system which is in progress. The solar power for electricity initially cost Rs 50 lakh for the apex contract and the heat pumps for all the units cost Rs 25 lakh.

Do such initiatives make it easier to get accreditation from either NABH, JCI etc.?

Both NABH and JCI gives emphasis on environment friendly practises in their standards by giving recognition for earth-friendly and sustainable practices. This indirectly helps us in controlling and monitoring all the critical parameters and consumptions.

How do these initiatives help in branding your hospitals?

In the present scenario, a business without green initiatives is not sustainable. These initiatives have become part of the regular operations. Such green initiatives/green certifications like energy awards, Green OT certifications indicates strongly the brand value of the organisation.

Corporates/ end users/ customers pay more attention towards such organisations.

All our team members have become environmentally aware and they have started practising it in daily routines which indirectly helps the organisation financially. This results in the entire ecosystem becoming environmentally conscious.

What are some of the challenges in implementing these initiatives?

For hospitals which are already operational, there is a need to plan it in a staged manner as you cannot inconvenience the patient. In some cases, we did a parallel installation of equipment or machineries and after successful testing, it was put into operation.

In general, it takes more time than the normal time frames for that operation. Wherever required we have gone ahead with retrofit options too. And in some cases, we had to stop operations in an area to implement such initiatives.

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