Hospital construction is showing an emerging green trend as more newly constructed hospitals achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.
Officials expect that the hefty cost of a “green” hospital will pay off in the long run. MSHA’s Asst. Vice President of Construction and Facilities, Bill Alton says these types of construction (such as the Franklin Woods Hospital) save tens of thousands of dollars of energy costs each year. “It does cost more than normal construction,“ says Alton, “but it’s worth it for the care and safety of the patients that we provide care for.“
LEED certification which comes in four levels is issued by the U.S. Green Building Council, a nonprofit, independent organization that looks at the design, construction, and operations of “green” buildings. Examples of recent projects in Indiana, Illinois and Tennessee include:
• The Wishard Memorial Hospital is aiming for a LEED rating by maintaining pollution control during construction, having an energy-efficient design, conducting water conservation, and maintaining other facility improvements. Staff members at the Indianapolis facility, scheduled to open in 2013, who carpool or have energy-efficient vehicles will have designated parking spaces, and bike racks and showers will be provided to those who walk, jog, or bike to work.
• More than 33 percent of the roof on the Orthopedic Building at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago has vegetation that helps reduce storm water run-off, and there are solar reflective pavers on the ground that also reduce run-off. The facility was built with recycled concrete, steel, and ceilings. These efforts and more have earned it a Gold LEED certification.
• Efficient burners and hot water heaters will only use the energy they need at Franklin Woods Hospital, opening in July 2010 in Johnson City, Tenn. The hospital has also used construction materials with low volatile organic compounds, which should reduce chemicals in the air and help people with allergies. There are other conservation moves considered more “standard,” such as using more recycled materials, having low-flow plumbing, and reducing carbon dioxide emission reductions. If the Wishard Hospital attains its goal of a silver-level LEED (the third-highest level), it will be only the tenth newly constructed hospitals in the nation to achieve the rank.
Robotic Parking Systems (www.roboticparking.com) can help both hospitals and other development projects achieve LEED certification. By storing twice as many cars in half the space, automated parking can help developers maximize green space and exceed local open space requirements. Additional examples include points earned by placing 50% of parking spaces under cover to reduce heat islands and by improving energy efficiency in parking garages. These factors and more contribute to creating greener, more livable communities.