How do you build a sustainable nursing home?

1. Determine the green playing field

Building a traditional nursing home follows a fixed model, Niels believes. “You have a requirement sheet, an architect makes a design, and you approach a number of contractors with that. The person with the best price and/or quality can build it.’ It is completely different at the green nursing home on Texel. ‘We first put our ambitions on paper’, says Ailin. “We wanted to challenge the market to create an integrated offer based on that. It was a new, green playing field that we had to define first.’

‘Because what exactly is a green nursing home? We asked people from across the organization to think about this’ Ailin Haijer and Niels Visser

2. Set your ambitions with people from all corners of your organization

Ailin: ‘Because what exactly is a green nursing home? Is it a circular and energy-neutral building or more?’ “We asked people from across the organization to contribute ideas about this,” says Niels. ‘People from facilities, health and safety, vitality, finance, positive health, you name it.’ “Our regular construction partner HevoFame has a lot of experience in building care homes, but for our high sustainable and healthy ambitions we asked for help from the consulting company Copper8, specialized in circular and future-proof construction”, adds Ailin. ‘They supervised the brainstorming sessions. This resulted in 4 themes: energy, green, healthy and social and circular.’

3. Make your ambitions tangible

Then again, together with Copper8, we investigated how we could make the collected ideas and ambitions SMART’, continues Ailin. ‘We have looked at what guidelines and certificates already exist for each theme. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for example and WELL, a standard for healthy buildings.’ “We have also decided which level we are aiming for: high, medium or low”, adds Niels. And whether it is realistic. We then compared our ambitions with our traditional requirements chart. To be sure that all requirements to provide good care were covered.’

4. Really commit to a green nursing home

Omring came out early in the process with the green nursing home. “It was exciting,” says Ailin. ‘We have made ourselves vulnerable. We had an idea but didn’t know how. We have received many answers to this. And also won an award for the best sustainable care idea from the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. But it was also a bit of a big stick in the door: “now we really have to do it”.

‘We think we are investing in quality of life and vitality with sustainable materials. But our green nursing home must also be financially profitable’ Ailin Haijer and Niels Visser

5. Ensure timely involvement of key external stakeholders

Ailin: ‘We included important external stakeholders such as VGZ and Rabobank at an early stage. They also find sustainability increasingly important, but this requires a different way of thinking. In the business case for our green nursing home, we explicitly look at economic, social and ecological values. This means that the initial investment is sometimes higher, but that this is earned back in operation later in the process.’ “Perhaps absenteeism decreases because the environment is healthier, to name just one example,” adds Niels. ‘We think we are investing in quality of life and vitality with sustainable materials. But our green nursing home must also be financially profitable. That’s why we had our plans calculated by an external party.’ Internally, Ailin and Niels also kept departments closely involved. ‘If you build in such a way that the materials can one day be reused, you should not depreciate to zero. This is important information for the finance department. We are also looking at the possibilities of recycling used materials. And for healthy materials in general. These are materials without toxic substances and materials that are produced under good working conditions.’

6. Green nursing home? Cooperation with the market

And then comes the moment when you have to go to the market and ask for offers. ‘It was also exciting,’ says Niels. ‘Because contractors are interested in such a project? But we really needed them.’ He illustrates it with an example. ‘If you seal everything very well, you will become energy neutral faster. But it does not fit with the ambition that you want to be able to reuse all materials later. Or that you want a pleasant indoor climate.’ In other words: The challenge for the contractors is to really think about it and come up with good solutions. ‘And to surprise us’, says Niels. ‘That’s why we asked the contractors to enter into partnerships themselves’, says Ailin. ‘With, for example, a landscape gardener and a mover. Because we would like to reuse the materials from the school, which today stands on the grounds of the green nursing home. That cooperation is also one of the points on which we have assessed the offers.’ The project group organized dialogue sessions for the three ‘consortia’ that signed up. ‘Exciting because you put the competitors together. But this way they all got exactly the same information. And that’s important, because we wanted three offers that were as good as possible.’

‘Now we enter the follow-up process, with the design first. We will do this together with our residents and employees. Because eventually they will live and work there’ Ailin Haijer

7. Evaluate the offers as objectively as possible

The assessment of the offers was also different from “normal”. ‘In a traditional construction process, the design is central’, explains Niels. ‘Not here. The three consortia had made sketches, but we deliberately looked at them only at the end. In order not to be prejudiced. Our project team has evaluated the offers based on our ambitions, randomly mixed, so not in comparison. And if our personal results differed, we discussed it together. It gave us objective choices.’ Ailin: ‘It was primarily about scoring the consortia’s vision. In other words, whether they had made an integrated quote and had specified our sustainable ambitions. And whether they had a clear picture of the organization of the process and whether it stayed within our budget. One provider has been rolled out as the best. So now we enter the follow-up process, with the design first. We will do this together with our residents and employees. Because they will eventually live and work there.’

Read more

This article is from the Dignity and Pride website. There you can also see the knowledge file on sustainability. You will also find information about sustainability in healthcare at Zorg voor Beter. See the theme Sustainable care.
Do you want to know more about Omring and the green nursing home they are building? So read along here.

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