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In Haiti, 1,800 Solar Panels Power a Brand-New Hospital

In It's Not Easy Being Green, Curbed pulls back the curtain on cutting-edge, environmentally friendly design, from urban passive houses to green tweaks on suburban living. Have a suggestion for an upcoming column? Pass it along.

Construction has just wrapped for what is now the planet's largest solar-powered hospital, a 205,500-square-foot facility in Mirebalais, Haiti, 30 miles north of Port-au-Prince. Funded and built by Partners in Health, the Hôpital Universitaire de Mirebalais, which is slated to serve some 185,000 people in the city and neighboring communities, sits in an area where power is unreliable, making a large hospital complex nearly impossible to sustain. Before now, anyway. Here, the more than 1,800 German-supplied solar panels will reportedly power the entire complex during daytime hours—and then some, with extra energy being funneled back into the Haiti's national grid.

On average, Haiti's Mirebalais region experiences about three hours of power outage each day, a hole that's easily patched by sun power, particularly considering that, as Design Boom reports, "before the complex officially opened, [...] [the panels] produced ?139 megawatt hours of electricity—enough to charge 22 million smartphones and offset 72 tons of coal." That energy will be used for such fancy doctor things as sterilization facilities, digital radiography, and the Hôpital Universitaire de Mirebalais' six operating rooms, the most of any public facility in the country.

In 2008, the Haitian Ministry of Health asked Partners in Health, an organization dedicated to providing healthcare to impoverished communities, to fill the void in the nation's fledgling hospital system. "The denizens of Mirebalais felt that in order to get quality care they had to go outside of their own city," PIH's Dr. David Walton said. "[Now] you're not going to have to leave the islands of Hispaniola to receive cardiothoracic surgery. You're not going to have to leave the island to receive, you know, complex orthopedic surgery."

And, really, the project has been a long time coming: "This hospital is the culmination of a dream dating back a quarter-century," Paul Farmer, a co-founder of Partners in Health said in a statement. Once the 300-bed hospital is fully operational, Partners in Health anticipates that the facility will see as many as 500 patients every day in its ambulatory clinics.

· World's Largest Solar-Powered Hospital Opens in Haiti [Design Boom]
· Hôpital Universitaire de Mirebalais [official site]
· All It's Not Easy Being Green posts [Curbed National]