Inhabitat: PIH's Solar-Powered Mirebalais Hospital Opens, Merging Innovative Design and Healthcare

In an area where power outages last for an average of 3 hours each day, the sun is a more reliable and cost-effective energy source. The array of 1800 solar panels on the hospital’s roof produces up to 140 megawatt hours of electricity on a bright day. That is more than 100% of HUM’s daily energy requirements, allowing the excess amount to be fed into Haiti’s severely inadequate national power grid. This is a first for Haiti, says Director of Construction Jim Ansara: “The challenge was in the design and engineering, and getting the solar power produced to mesh with the often unstable grids and the backup generators. At each step of the way, we were attempting things that had never before been done…”

The spirit of sustainable innovation is evident in every aspect of the design: natural ventilation and lighting; sun angles and roof overhangs; motion sensor lights; healing gardens and courtyards; as well as water-efficient plumbing and highly effective wastewater treatment. Although cutting edge, the hospital remains remarkably Haitian – a wall of medallions crafted by local metalworkers frames the main entrance and the hospital is light and airy with open-air courtyards, gardens and waiting areas. Ceiling fans provide airflow and comfort while air conditioning is used only in rooms which require strict temperature control. Natural ventilation, coupled with the placement of ultraviolet lights in open areas, reduces the spread of hospital-acquired tuberculosis and other infectious diseases.

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