Improving patient wellbeing and social equity for the community of Gisborne

Gisborne | Tairāwhiti, New Zealand | Aotearoa

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A new mental health inpatient facility at Hauora Tairāwhiti Gisborne Hospital is set to improve capacity and care for patients in the acute stage of mental illness. Located in Gisborne, New Zealand, it will accommodate 10 new patient beds, a tribunal room, whare, activity therapy and sensory space, a seclusion room, and a whanau room where family can stay if required. The facility, which is being delivered by Te Whatu Ora, will replace an existing building on the hospital site which is no longer fit for purpose. 

 The new facility will enable staff to deliver a safe, effective, and efficient contemporary model of care for patients who need a period of close observation or intensive investigation – this includes support and possible intervention where this can’t be safely provided in a community setting or in a less acute inpatient service. 

AECOM has been engaged as part of a design consortium led by Mode Architects to provide building services, ICT, security and communications, acoustics consulting, and Environmentally Sustainable Design (ESD) services on this new facility.   

Sustainability at the forefront of design 

Te Whatu Ora has established sustainability design guidelines for the Tairawhiti mental health facility further to policy set out in the New Zealand Carbon-Neutral Government Programme. This requires public sector agencies to measure, publicly report, and reduce their emissions, and by 2025, to offset any they cannot cut. For developments of this level of capital investment, mandates include Zero-Energy Certification, Life Cycle Analysis, and Core Green Building Certification which requires a reduction of electricity and water use of the baseline building, while also considering ecology, materials, and a healthy indoor environment. 

To achieve these important outcomes, we are designing and implementing key sustainability initiatives which include: 

  • Building envelope – embedding high levels of insulation to improve thermal performance and reduce energy consumption. 
  • Zero energy – all energy will be generated on-site with a renewable energy supply. A 200KW solar energy system will produce enough power annually to operate the building, with excess power to be fed back through to the main hospital.  
  • Healthy interior environment – incorporating a mixed-mode strategy to enable high-level ventilation, with natural ventilation during the months of the year with more comfortable outside temperatures. Patients will have a connection to the natural environment with access to external views and good levels of natural daylight for at least 75 percent of regularly occupied spaces. 
  • Water efficiency – reducing potable water by 50 percent against a reference regional building of the same type. This will be achieved through rainwater harvesting to irrigate gardens and flush toilets (as well as other site needs), and highly efficient fixtures and fittings. 

Driving social equity through the built environment 

Through this project, we will drive greater equity for the local community. The International Living Future Institute’s Core Green Building Certification includes a key imperative to improve equity to help create stable, safe job opportunities for the local community while supporting local diverse businesses through hiring, purchasing, and workforce development practices. AECOM will be certified against criteria including diversity and inclusion, employee benefits, equity, stewardship, employee health, and supply chain to achieve a JUST Label which will enable the Tairawhiti mental health facility to achieve Core imperative 8 (inclusion), and in turn, Core certification.