ZAt a time when the word climate change was not yet on everyone’s lips, the city of Frankfurt made two key decisions. On the one hand, she decided to continue running Klinikum Höchst in municipal hands and to invest in an urgently needed new building in order to make the hospital competitive. In addition, the Greens-led health department pushed through to construct this building using the particularly energy-efficient passive house construction method. “The Klinikum Höchst is to become one of the most modern and energy-efficient clinics in Europe,” said then city councilor Manuela Rottmann. That was almost twelve years ago.
This Wednesday, the hospital with its almost 700 beds and ten operating rooms received the certificate from the Darmstadt Passive House Institute to be the first hospital to be built to the passive house standard. According to the research institute, it is even the “world’s first hospital” to be certified as a passive house. And since the state of Hesse has supported and promoted this “model example of climate-friendly new buildings” in recent years, the certificate was handed over by Economics Minister Tarek Al-Wazir (Die Grünen) to the managing director of the Frankfurt-Main-Taunus-Kliniken, Martin Menger. Of course, in the presence of the long-standing Frankfurt Health Department head Rosemarie Heilig (Die Grünen), who, as Rottmann’s successor, played a key role in driving the innovative new building project forward.
Hospitals are top energy consumers
“We wanted to be the first city in Frankfurt to prove that a modern hospital can be heated and air-conditioned with almost no fossil raw materials,” said Heilig when the certificate was handed over. She is proud that “we have achieved this milestone”. It is hoped that Klinikum Höchst will become “a beacon for all hospitals that will be built in Germany in the future”. Economy Minister Al-Wazir added that the best energy is that which is not consumed. That’s why the state relies “on the three E’s: energy saving, energy efficiency and the expansion of renewables”. The new clinic building shows how climate protection can be achieved in buildings.
But what is special about a Passive House hospital? There is already experience with residential and office buildings. According to Jürgen Schnieders from the Passive House Institute in Darmstadt, the main challenge is that in a clinic there is more to consider than the type of building envelope. Because of their 24-hour operation, hospitals are among the top energy consumers: emergency rooms, operating theatres, intensive care units, technical equipment, lighting, ventilation – everything is used practically around the clock. Therefore, an energy-efficient concept with correspondingly economical devices is particularly worthwhile. According to Schnieders, the new building saves around 75 percent of the energy costs compared to the old building that is still in use. Never before has the energetic balance of a building complex as in Höchst with more than 3000 rooms and the aforementioned continuous operation been considered as a whole.
It will be a few months before the first patients can use this “beautiful, state-of-the-art hospital”, as Menger praised it. Actually should be moved in June. But there are still no building permits. Menger said he hopes that the new building, previously calculated at 265 million euros, “will start in late autumn”.