Assessment of Overheating Risk in Gynaecology Scanning Rooms during Near-Heatwave Conditions: A Case Study of the Royal Berkshire Hospital in the UK

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019 Sep 11;16(18):3347. doi: 10.3390/ijerph16183347.


Hospital buildings in the UK are at particular risk to rising summer temperatures associated with climate change. Balancing the thermal needs of patients, staff, and visitors is a challenging, complex endeavour. A case study of the ultrasound area of the Royal Berkshire Hospital's Maternity and Gynaecology building is presented, where temperatures were measured for 35 days in waiting areas, staff offices, and ultrasound scanning rooms, aiming to assess the overheating risk posed to occupants. Local external temperature measurements were used for comparison whereby determining the indoor-outdoor environmental connection. Results show that most rooms had already breached standard overheating thresholds within the study period. Anthropogenic and waste heat from equipment has a noticeable effect on indoor temperatures. Local air-conditioning helped reduce the peaks in temperature seen between 14:00 and 17:00 for similar scanning rooms but is in contradiction to the National Health Service's sustainability plans. Several low-level solutions such as improved signage, access to water, and the allocation of vulnerable patients to morning clinics are suggested. Barriers to solutions are also discussed and the requirement of sufficient maintenance plans for cooling equipment is empathised. These solutions are likely to be applicable to other hospital buildings experiencing similar conditions.

Keywords: case study; climate; heatwave; hospital; overheating; temperature.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Conditioning
  • Climate Change
  • Female
  • Gynecology
  • Hospitals / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hot Temperature*
  • Humans
  • Infrared Rays
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Care
  • Seasons
  • State Medicine
  • Temperature
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal
  • United Kingdom