To address the unique design requirements of green healthcare facilities, the U.S. Green Building Council established its LEED for Healthcare (LEED-HC) rating system in 2011.
Until last month, no hospital had successfully achieved this certification; in April, however, Group Health Puyallup Medical Center in Puyallup, WA, was the first medical building in the country to be granted LEED-HC certification. The 53,000-square-foot, two-story medical facility was completed in December 2012.
This certification category introduces several new credits to the LEED green building rating system. Here are a few examples of what LEED-HC focuses on, and how Group Health Puyallup Medical Center‘s facility addressed the issues:
- Connection to the natural world. The medical center offers a landscaped area for patients, as well as a green roof and covered patio that serves as part of the staff lounge.
- Water use reduction in cooling medical equipment. Through a special temperature sensor that adds cold water only when needed vs. all the time, Group Health reduced the amount of potable water used for its medical sterilizers. (To protect plumbing, hot water from the sterilizer must be tempered with cold water to bring the temperature down.)
- Community contaminant prevention. The Puyallup hospital implemented a steam generator boiler that provides hot water for the entire facility with less pollution (LEED-HC requires NOx emissions from combustion hot water heaters to be less than 55 ppm.)
- PBT source reduction. By using lead-free products when possible, and mechanically crimping copper joints to avoid copper corrosion, Group Health minimized the use of PBTs (persistent bio-accumulative toxins), which can cause negative health effects.
The clinic design was perfected through a mock-up of the building that was fabricated in a 40,000-square-foot warehouse, allowing design changes to be made before breaking ground.
Local materials and products with high recycled content were used when possible. Trees that had to be cleared for hospital construction were reclaimed in the form of outdoor benches, interior finishes, and two-story wall paneling in the central lobby. The new facility also includes car charging stations and bike racks.
What do you think about the new credits as part of LEED-HC? Is this a certification you might pursue for your own healthcare facility in the future?