W3UP7 – Understanding hospital electricity use: an end-use(r) perspective
22nd October 2015 Paula Morgenstern

Understanding hospital electricity use: an end-use(r) perspective

Paula Morgenstern, UCL


Increasing energy costs and climate change legislation have prompted efforts to reduce energy consumption in hospitals. In addition to technological conservation strategies focussing on building and building services, staff-centred initiatives such as energy awareness campaigns are increasingly considered by NHS Trusts. But hospitals are complex buildings with unique energy requirements and it is unclear to what extent these are influenced by clinical staff and patients. This PhD research aims to improve the understanding of hospital electricity use from an end-use perspective and to determine the theoretical reduction potential from behaviour change for different hospital types and areas.


It is increasingly recognized both in the domestic and the non-domestic context that considerable energy savings can be achieved through changes in user behaviour. But while the impact of interventions targeting user behaviour is comparatively well understood in domestic settings, measured energy savings in organisations vary between 1 and 12 % for heating and 5 – 15% for electricity, while simulations claim a potential of up 20%. For hospitals, the Carbon Trust deems reductions in total energy costs of up to 10% possible, but actual hospitals often have little indication of how much could be saved through energy awareness campaigns or similar.

Research questions

To improve the understanding of hospital electricity use and to enable the tailored design of staff-centred energy efficiency interventions in hospitals and specific hospital departments, this PhD hopes to answer the following research questions:

1. What are the determinants of hospital electricity use?
2. How do medical sta ff influence hospital electricity use in different healthcare processes and buildings?
3. What is the theoretical maximum reduction potential from improvements in behavioural electrical efficiency for diff erent hospital types and areas?


The analysis of multiple case-studies is proposed to enhance the understanding of hospital electricity use. Since this area has so far been little researched, an exploratory mixed method
approach seems appropriate. Data collection and analysis are understood within an inductive-pragmatic research paradigm with view to developing theory applicable to the hospital context in answer to the research questions 1 and 2. Engineering estimates will support reflections on question 3 while it seems important here not to oversee challenges which might remain on the systems side.

Project Team

Paula Morgenstern
Robert Lowe
Rokia Raslan


Conference paper

Measuring changes in energy behaviours in complex non-domestic buildings

Paper presented at Behave 2014, Oxford, UK


Conference poster

Evaluating energy efficiency behaviour change interventions in hospitals

Poster at 10th Biennial Conference on Environmental Psychology, Magdeburg, Germany


‘Helping patients’ and/or/vs. ‘Helping the planet’: Pro-environmental behaviours and professional identities

Workshop / Discussion session at 1st Conference of the British Environmental Psychology Society

Practical challenges for energy audits in specialist buildings

Presentation at CBx event: Getting to grips with enery audits

Grassroots action for a sustainable healthcare system: the Sustainable Specialties network and the NUS Green Impact scheme as case studies

Joint workshop with Rachel Stancliffe (Centre for Sustainable Healthcare) at the Healthy Planet Conference 2014

How can the energy savings achieved from behaviour change be verified and confirmed? A hospital case study.

Presentation at Industry Smart Meter Workshop

Variability in hospital electricity use

Presentation at LoLo Colloquium 2013

Understanding hospital electricity use: an end-use(r) perspective

MPhil to PhD Upgrade presentation at the UCL Energy Institute, 14th Oct 2013

How to Measure the Impact of Energy Efficiency Behaviour Change Interventions in Hospitals?

Presentation at the IHEEM Healthcare Estates Conference, Manchester, UK

How to evaluate energy efficiency behaviour change interventions in hospitals?

Presentation at the YoungOR Conference in Exeter

Report (progress/mini project/consultation reports)

Understanding hospital electricity use: an end-use(r) perspective

MPhil to PhD Upgrade report, October 2013