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In the future, health care systems will also have to pay greater attention to sustainability. In project business, VAMED already integrates national environmental standards and regulations into the planning and construction of a hospital or other health care facility as an active contribution toward environmental protection. VAMED’s extensive expertise in environmental management is an important success factor, especially in growth markets in Africa and Asia. For instance, VAMED built and now operates a hospital in Gabon, Africa, which features a modern sewage treatment plant and a high-temperature incineration plant designed to European standards.

VAMED has also achieved successes in the service business. VAMED, for instance, is responsible for the technical management of the Vienna General Hospital and University Hospital AKH. The AKH is one of the largest operations in Austria and has about 10,000 employees. Since 1996, the operating area of the AKH has increased by approximately 9% due to new construction. Considering the increased operating area, it is a remarkable success that its energy and drinking water consumption has decreased significantly. Energy consumption decreased by 12%, demand for long-distance heat by 21%, and drinking water consumption by as much as 43%. Consequently, the direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions of the AKH also decreased. Compared to 1996, emissions decreased by 15%, which is three-times higher than the international target set by the Kyoto Protocol of about 5%. The success is especially due to improved air-conditioning and heat recovery in the buildings of the AKH. The AKH, together with VAMED, will continue the energy efficiency program to keep greenhouse gas emissions as low as possible.

Over the past years, VAMED has also realized major improvements in the waste management of the AKH. One main project was, for example, the separation of waste. Compared to 1994, we reduced the volume of waste classified as hazardous medical waste by 70%. Waste and recycling materials amount to approximately 31% of the overall waste volume. We started a project to evaluate the potential for rendering non-recyclable waste recyclable. Pharmaceutical waste, such as unused or expired drugs, is collected separately and disposed of by authorized companies.

VAMED takes sustainability criteria into account from the outset when planning and building health care facilities. This procedure was neutrally audited for the first time in 2012 and the effectiveness of the existing criteria catalogue was confirmed. For the planning and realization of the Oncological Rehabilitation Center in St. Veit / Pongau, Austria, VAMED was the first health care facility in a German-speaking country to receive the silver ÖGNI precertification for sustainability (ÖGNI is the German abbreviation for the Austrian Association for Sustainability in Real Estate). The rehabilitation center meets all of ÖGNI’s sustainability criteria: ecological, economic, sociocultural, functional, and technical, as well as its criteria pertaining to quality of process and location.

VAMED is also an active member of working groups and committees that formulate E-STANDARDS for hospitals. These are Austrian standards issued by the Austrian Standards Institute. In addition, an international working group dealing with hospital waste issues was founded by the IWWG (International Waste Working Group). IWWG is a working group of international scientists and companies focusing on sustainable waste management in hospitals.

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