Sussex hospital opened by Sir Paul McCartney becomes first in UK to become carbon neutral

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Rye, Winchelsea and District Memorial Hospital has become the UK’s first hospital to achieve carbon neutrality.

The hospital, based in the ancient East Sussex town of Rye, near Hastings, was opened in the mid 1990’s on the site of the old Rye Hospital by Sir Paul McCartney and Linda McCartney. A stained glass window was based on a photograph taken by Linda.

The opening followed a local campaign led by the McCartney’s and comedy legend Spike Milligan, who all lived in the Rye area.

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The installation of the Memorial Care Centre’s renewable systems was followed by confirmation from its electricity supplier that all power now comes from fully renewable sources such as solar panels and wind power. This means that the hospital has reduced its carbon footprint by 100 per cent.

Rye, Winchelsea and District Community HospitalRye, Winchelsea and District Community Hospital
Rye, Winchelsea and District Community Hospital

By the end of 2024, it is estimated that the overall energy consumption at Rye Memorial Hospital will have reduced by approximately 240,000 Kilowatt hours, a drop of 40 per cent from 2020 figures. The outcome is a total reduction of approximately 260 tonnes of carbon per annum, the equivalent of planting approximately 4,300 trees.

The project, commissioned in September 2021, has been designed and delivered by property maintenance specialists DMA Group and fully funded by the Rye Winchelsea and District Memorial Hospital charity.

Rye Memorial Hospital has replaced gas boilers with new electric flow boilers and calorifiers and replaced the kitchen gas fired equipment, eliminating the use of gas completely. The installation of internal and external LED lighting with automatic controls means energy is not wasted by leaving lights on. It is estimated that its solar roof panels will generate more than 70,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per annum. The hospital has also installed nine Tesla Powerwall solar batteries (3 per phase of electricity) with a total storage capacity of 120 KW to capture all surplus electricity generated by the solar panels, reducing the demand for electricity from the external supply grid.

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A full clean of the hospital’s heating system and the replacement of all radiator valves has ensured the heating system operates more efficiently. A Building Management System (BMS) used by the hospital’s inhouse FM team, and DMA Group ensures onsite and remote live operational monitoring of all plant and equipment, energy utilisation, building and water temperature. This all ensures a better environment for patients and staff as each team can identify an issue before it becomes a problem.

Solar panels on the hospitalSolar panels on the hospital
Solar panels on the hospital

Many other projects have been completed as part of the Rye Memorial Hospital’s modernisation. These include: The installation of solar blinds in the nurses’ station to help reduce glare and heat to create a more comfortable working environment; a new air-conditioning system in the nurses’ station; new air-conditioning units in the communications and medicine rooms reduce the risk of equipment failure and the overheating of medicines and improvements to the hospital’s cold-water systems including the installation of a chemical dosing system and cold-water booster, increasing the water pressure in the hospital and reducing the risk of bacterial infections such as legionella

Barry Nealon, chairman at Rye, Winchelsea and District Memorial Hospital, said: “Our goal was always to become a fully functional net zero community hospital, but to have done it so quickly and as the UK’s first is beyond our expectations. We had a mission to bring medical services closer to home for the benefit of our local community. To achieve this, we needed to reimagine our existing business models and aim for sustainable growth and a collaborative and experienced service partner like DMA Group to realise those goals, if we were to do our bit in curbing emissions and limiting global warming.”

The Project has been led by the Hospital’s former Chief Operating Officer, and now Trustee, Martyn Phillips, who has worked closely with DMA to ensure the best possible decarbonisation plan, and also to make sure that the replacement of life expired plant and equipment has ensured that the Hospital infrastructure will function effectively for the next 20 years.

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Kevin Mcguane, energy services director at DMA, said: “We are confident that a return will be delivered in the short to medium term for the hospital. We have remained open and transparent with stakeholders about right design, solutions and the costings, and this proactive approach has enabled us to build a strong collaborative partnership with Rye Hospital that not only presented a route to net zero but also a sound business case.”

Steve McGregor, managing director at DMA, said: “We are incredibly proud to have supported Barry and his team to help them achieve a national first — becoming a fully functional net zero community hospital. As has been the nature of this project in East Sussex, the net zero journey is one of continuous evolution and refinement and, equally, one that will lead to a more responsible and financially secure future.”

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