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Green Surgery Report: Operating Theatre Energy and Design

Energy efficiency in operating theatres can reduce the environmental impact of surgical care

Read Section 4 of the Green Surgery Report

Section Highlights

Operating theatres are 3-6 times more energy intensive than clinical wards.

The majority of theatre energy consumption relates to theatre maintenance (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning).

There are three main types of ventilation systems: turbulent mixed airflow (least energy), temperature controlled airflow, laminar air flow (most energy).

Shutdown checklists can be used to prompt staff to switch off theatre equipment out of hours and should be accompanied by turn-on checklists and safety protocols to ensure items are on when required.

There are opportunities at the stage of theatre design (or retrofit) for installation of motion sensors to control lights, temperature, and ventilation, alongside energy efficient appliances and machinery, and automatic/pedal-controlled taps for surgical scrub.

At the hospital level, contracts should be drawn with providers of renewable electricity, and installation of combined heat and power facilities.

There are opportunities across the hospital for installing LED lighting and improving insulation.

Section Recommendations

(1) Ensure operating theatre equipment is switched off when not in use (e.g. Anaesthetic Gas Scavenging Systems, air handling units, lights, computers, other plug-ins)

(2) Improve environmental impact of operating theatre energy consumption

Case Studies

Elective theatres shutdown list

Improving laminar flow efficiency

Operating theatres shutdown list

*** Note: Outcomes data from case studies have not been verified and some financial and greenhouse gas emission figures are based on projections.