Hospital LED Retrofit in São Paolo Will Cut Lighting Costs by 40%

In partnership with the Healthy Hospital Project and CLASP, the Hospital das Clínicas da Faculdade de Medicina de Botucatu (Teaching Hospital of Botucatu) in São Paulo is replacing over 3,000 fluorescent bulbs with energy-efficient LED alternatives - reducing lighting electricity costs by 40%.  

Surrounded by lush rolling hills in the heart of the state of São Paulo, Hospital das Clínicas da Faculdade de Medicina de Botucatu (Teaching Hospital of Botucatu) prides itself on sixty years of educating the future healthcare professionals of Brazil. One of the largest hospitals in the region, thousands of patients visit daily to meet with some of the country’s best specialists.

Dr. Karina Pavão, faculty member and Coordinator of the Special Unit for Sustainable Health at the hospital, has spearheaded initiatives to increase sustainability and improve energy efficiency at the hospital over the past decade. As she walks through the corridors of the massive complex greeting staff members and students, some overhead lights flicker or are noticeably off.

The public hospital has faced increasing financial strains over the past two years of the pandemic. Despite an urgent need for better lighting, budget constraints have stalled progress. The hospital started a LED retrofit in 2017 but the projected ended without retrofitting the entire hospital. The hospital now organizes a yearly campaign where staff and patients donate to purchase LED bulbs.

When Healthy Hospital Project (PHS) reached out to Dr. Pavão earlier this year proposing an LED retrofit, she was eager to participate. In partnership with PHS and CLASP, the Faculdade will replace over 3,000 fluorescent bulbs covering 3,000 square meters of facilities with energy-efficient LED alternatives. The retrofit is expected to reduce lighting electricity costs by 40%.

Dr. Karina Pavão in a hospital room retrofitted with LED lights. 

The Botucatu lighting retrofit is one of three pilots projects CLASP is leading – the other two are at Mary Johnston Hospital in Manila, Philippines and the Lagos State Civil Servant Clinic in Lagos, Nigeria.

“Our hospitals have been particularly stretched during the pandemic and could greatly benefit from cost saving solutions. Our partner hospitals are currently operating with fluorescent lamps which consume 50-60% more energy than LEDs, and contain mercury, a neurotoxin that can have harmful and long-term health effects,” explains Nyamolo Abagi, a lighting expert at CLASP. “By replacing fluorescents with LEDs, we also improve working conditions for hospital staff as LEDS provide a higher quality lighting experience.”

“The LED retrofit will protect our staff and patients from the risk of mercury exposure if a fluorescent bulb breaks. We will also lower our monthly electricity costs and improve working conditions,” Dr. Pavão says.

Dr. Pavão hopes the Botucatu retrofit will demonstrate to other hospitals, as well as the Brazilian government, that it is time for a transition to LEDs. “Our mission is to train future leaders and build awareness that sustainability should be integrated into our day-to-day operations and healthcare processes. We have an obligation to protect our communities and the planet from further damage because climate change is the biggest challenge facing Brazil and the world. Improving energy efficiency and mitigating further damage is as easy as changing a lightbulb.”

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