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Every day across Europe, new hospitals and healthcare centres are being built. These significant investments often aim to create architectural projects that participate in ensuring efficient, flexible and qualitative patient treatment, in addition to optimising working conditions for staff. The architectural challenge of these new hospitals is for aesthetics and functionality to form a perfect match. The countless combination options offered by vinyl-based materials enable the architects’ free rein in their creativity, offering them almost infinite design options to meet aesthetics, functionality, safety, affordability and sustainability needs.
The idea of a “healing architecture” holds sway over many new hospital projects. This concept covers, among other things: light, colour, art, access, orientation options, noise reduction and green recreational surroundings. Studies show that these elements positively influence the success of the patient treatment and add to improving the working environment of hospital staff.
Safety and hygiene
Safety and hygiene are other crucial elements in health care environments. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control states that infections occurring in clinical environments represent a significant threat to public health. In Europe, over 4 million patients contract infections from hospital exposures. 37,000 unnecessary deaths are the result of such infection in Europe. These infections can be significantly reduced by, amongst other things, using appropriate materials across the hospital premises. The smooth and dirt-resistant properties of vinyl considerably reduce the risk of retention and multiplication of bacteria. Thanks to its great wear resistance, ease of installation, cleaning and maintenance, vinyl optimises the cost of running and maintaining heavy traffic environments, while ensuring safety and hygiene. These benefits have made vinyl flooring an integral part of operation theatres, patient rooms, clean rooms, wet rooms and laboratories everywhere.
In 2011 the European Council of Vinyl Manufacturers (ECVM) commissioned an independent analysis of the overall economic aspects of using vinyl as a building material throughout the product’s lifecycle, including the costs of purchase, installation, use, maintenance, repair and replacement. The comparative economic analysis revealed that vinyl provides significant economic benefits and even more so when the entire product’s lifecycle is looked at.
Last, but not least, the sustainability criteria of the chosen materials must also be considered. The PVC industry has been actively engaging in a number of initiatives to move towards a sustainable life cycle outlook from the production to the use through the end of life of vinyl. As an example, the PVC industry has set up a comprehensive environmental programme called VinylPlus® which is aiming at recycling 800,000 tonnes of PVC waste per year by 2020. The programme ensures the PVC industry constantly improves the sustainable characteristics of vinyl throughout its entire life cycle. It does so while maintaining all the properties that make it an exceptional material for hospital building and other projects that necessitate high requirements with regard to wear resistance, comfort, design options, safety, hygiene, ease of installation, cleaning and maintenance, and total cost.
Over the last decade, the PVC industry has constantly been innovating to help ensure the availability of the best cost-efficient flooring, ceiling and wall covering solutions for patients and staff in health care environments while pursuing strong sustainability objectives.