While there is no argument that healthcare providers benefit society through health prevention, maintenance and treatment, there is also no argument that there is an environmental cost because of the large amounts of waste produced and energy consumed.
An emerging green trend in hospital construction is evidence that the industry is aware of the waste issues and the desires of patients to have more efficient facilities.
Take a look at three recent projects:
- The Wishard Memorial Hospital is aiming for a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (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 Level in LEED.
- 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.
The LEED certification is issued by the U.S. Green Building Council, an nonprofit, independent organization that looks at the design, construction, and operations of "green" buildings. Its LEED certification comes in four levels. If the Wishard Hospital attains its goal of a silver-level LEED (the third-highest, below platinum and gold; above bronze), it will be only the tenth newly constructed hospitals in the nation to achieve the rank.