Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Sign that the Age of the Eco-Hospital is Near

In the countryside near Kasukabe City, Saitama Prefecture, sits Asia's most ambitious eco-hospital. Built five years ago with the latest in medical technology, Shuwa General Hospital was a first in Asia in terms of scale and technical sophistication.

The man who built this hospital is its chief director, the 76-year-old Dr. Hideo Yoneshima. The doctor is well known in Japan's medical circles for his research and analysis of hospital administration. Yoneshima combined his desire to give the best medical care with the incredible planning skills of first-rate architects Muroi and Kobayashi and the superior technology of Taisei Corp. to create Japan's first eco-hospital.

An eco-hospital is a hospital that lives in harmony with nature and channels nature's energy. For example, the crisp country air outside of Kasukabe City ventilates the hospital, coming through the windows because of an impressive circulation system. The system uses data from the automated meteorological data acquisition system (AMEDAS) about the climate around Kasukabe to break down and scientifically control circulation. The system has been ventilating the hospital well for five years.

The hospital also cools itself through rooftop gardens that harness the cooling power of flowering plants, which help the hot air evaporate. This cools the ground in the garden, which cools the concrete on the rooftops. The five-story building is kept at a comfortable temperature in this way. The impact of using less energy is big. The hospital lives in harmony with its surroundings.

Shuwa General Hospital has been drawing interest from near and far over the last five years. Its very existence gives me a sense that the age of the eco-hospital is drawing near.