One of the UK’s leading veterinary referral centres has shown its pursuit of excellence does not just extend to its industry-leading care for sick and injured animals.
Linnaeus-owned Southfields Veterinary Specialists, in Essex, which has already received bonze accreditation from the Investors in the Environment (iiE), has gone to exceptional lengths to ensure its new £16 million referral centre delivers the highest levels of sustainability and staff wellbeing.
The 40,000 sq ft state-of-the-art animal hospital will open its doors in August to provide cutting-edge veterinary facilities, an excellent working environment plus the very latest in eco-friendly advances.
Leading the new hospital’s sustainability push is the fact Southfields is set to be one of the first referral vet practices in the UK to use in-house oxygen generators for 100 per cent of its core delivery, meaning it does not rely on constant deliveries of bottled oxygen.
Daniel Hogan, hospital director at Southfields, said: “The desire for our new hospital to be solely reliant on in-house oxygen generators was there from the moment we were planning the project.
“There are various negative environmental associations with bottled oxygen, including the mileage of delivery and, of course, storage can also be dangerous, so to be fully reliant on our own piston-driven generators is a huge way to become self-sufficient and, of course, combined with renewable electricity at the site, cuts our full value chain carbon footprint significantly.”
Ellie West, environmental sustainability lead at Linnaeus, said the fact the new Southfields hospital would home in-house oxygen generators was a point of difference in terms of reducing its carbon footprint from operations.
She said: “Whilst oxygen generators consume electricity, the carbon emissions from transport deliveries and manufacture of oxygen are likely to be far higher. This set-up models a way that our sector can move towards sustainable practices in even the largest of practice types.”
As well as oxygen generators, Southfields’ sustainability push has been to the fore throughout the building project, as Daniel explains: “The ambition was to combine a pioneering approach on sustainability with the desire to create an effective, efficient and welcoming environment for our team, patients and clients.
“We looked at every possible area of the new building to find ways to reduce its carbon footprint, save on energy and cut down on waste.
“Wherever possible we have used responsibly-sourced, environmentally-friendly products to ensure the architecture and design allowed for the creation of an effective and enjoyable working environment.
“For example, we have used central light wells to deliver natural light from the roof to the ground floor to make the best use of daylight regardless of the time of year.
“We’ve installed a high-performance insulated roof and skylights, ensuring the building is well insulated to prevent heat escaping.
“We’ve also installed solar panels on the roof to generate electricity to be used on site. Across the build, we’ve looked to include the most efficient thermal construction products and worked to deliver a high standard of air tightness to prevent energy escaping.
“There’s an LED lighting system throughout with presence detection, absence detection and daylight dimming controls.
“It also reduces the demand for mechanical cooling and mitigates the risk of overheating by reducing heat gains through the use of energy efficient lighting and high specification glazing.
“The building boasts an ‘Effective Building Energy Management System’ which controls the mechanical and electrical systems, including sub-metering and energy monitoring.
“For instance, the heating system automatically sets back to a lower temperature when an area is unoccupied.
“Where mechanical ventilation is required, the system incorporates heat recovery elements via either plate heat exchangers or run-around coils.
“We’ve included air source heat pumps to provide heating and cooling to occupied spaces and there are flow restrictors in the taps and toilets.”
The new energy-saving measures undoubtedly put Southfields at the forefront of the quest for sustainability in the veterinary industry.
Southfields and Linnaeus actually made one of the most important environmental decisions very early in the process, though, long before construction even began.
They decided to repurpose an existing building in Basildon, rather than start from scratch with a new project, delivering a massive reduction in its carbon footprint.
Daniel added: “We chose a brownfield site and carried out a complete refurbishment of the existing building rather than look to construct a brand-new development.
“This meant we’ve minimised our carbon footprint, as we’ve been able to retain the local infrastructure and maintain the site’s layout plus there was no need for any new foundations or steelwork for the building.
“It’s been a long process through the planning and building stages but we are delighted with the results and can’t wait to open our doors in September to show everyone what a high-quality environment we have created.”
Southfields Veterinary Specialists is dedicated to providing the highest standards of veterinary care for pets and providing a seamless service to owners and referring vets.
The referral centre offers specialist services such as anaesthesia and analgesia, cardiology, dentistry, dermatology, diagnostic imaging, exotics, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, orthopaedics, radiation and soft tissue surgery.