NHS - Digital Twins proof of concept


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This proof of concept study aimed to showcase the value of digital twins in the decarbonisation of NHS estates and the replicability of this technology across different healthcare building types.

Key Facts

  • Proof of concept showing replicability of digital twins across NHS estate
  • Net-Zero roadmap created advising on retrofit strategies and energy conservation measures
  • Predicted 65% reduction in total CO2 emissions across the site

This work closely aligns with the recently launched NHS England >> NHS Net Zero Building Standard which states that one of the changes that will drive improved carbon performance over time is “increasing the use of digital techniques such as advanced energy modelling, building and asset management systems and digital twins to optimise buildings and systems, reduce the performance gap and drive resource efficiency.”

For this project, the following hospital buildings were selected to have calibrated performance digital twins created:

·       An emergency department and adjoining ward (3121 m²)

·       Two outpatient departments (2063 m² & 2454 m²)

·       A day surgery (2285 m2)

These buildings were specifically chosen as being representative of a range of different healthcare building types, to demonstrate the application and replicability of the digital twin solution across the entire NHS estate.

The models were created from scratch using the IES Virtual Environment (IESVE) and then calibrated, a process where the results of the physics-based dynamic simulation are compared to actual consumption data extrapolated from utility bills at a monthly level. ASHRAE Guideline 14 was used as a reference guide to evaluate the accuracy of the calibrated models, with all achieving a close match to the actual buildings’ operational performance. This provided an accurate baseline from which to simulate and compare the impact of a range of proposed scenarios for these buildings in terms of their energy use and carbon emissions.

These digital twins were then used to simulate and outline a roadmap to Net-Zero, advising on possible renovation strategies and energy conservation measures (ECMs), ranging from easy-wins to deep renovation practices.

The results indicated that the combined proposed decarbonisation measures presented by the roadmap could achieve up to a 65% reduction in total CO2 emissions across the site (excluding any national grid decarbonisation projections), rising to 97% if grid decarbonisation projections were accounted for.

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