Vol. 1 2010 – Case study: Green healthcare

The concept of LEED® was still in its infancy in 1999 when Tilden, Lobnitz and Cooper (TLC), was approached by Alachua County to design a Courthouse using the newly developed standards. However, since that time the firm has been at the forefront of LEED® in Florida, with many design firsts including, the first elementary school, the first hotel, as well as the first health care facility.The first LEED® certified health care facility in Florida was The Parrish Medical Center, located in Port St. John, Florida. The 72,236 square foot project includes cardiopulmonary services, physical therapy and conference center. The Health Care Center was the 2008 Project of the Year for the U.S. Green Building Council Central Florida Chapter. Kim Shinn, Director of Sustainable Design for TLC, oversaw LEED® for the project. Shinn also serves on the healthcare design committee for LEED®.

The building achieved LEED® Silver Certification at 33 points and water efficiency accounted for four of those points. In order to achieve the four points for water efficiency the firm used 1/2 gallon per minute sensor operated faucets. Sensor operated faucets account for a 20% reduction for LEED® by reducing the time the water flows. “Studies show that the average manual hands washing last 15 seconds, as compared to 12 seconds with sensor faucets,” said Shinn. The project also included water saving fixtures such as dual flush toilets and waterless urinals. “The project ultimately achieved a nearly 40% reduction in water use compared to the base line”, said Shinn. The average in-patient hospital uses 300-600 gallons of potable water per bed per day with about a third of the water use being in the fixtures. Shinn said that the Parrish Medical Center was at the forefront of LEED® in the medical community because of the support of their President, George Mikitarian, Jr.

However, Shinn feels we still have a long way to go in educating the medical community on the value of LEED®. For example, while the infectious disease control staff in many hospitals applauds the idea of sensor faucets, in some cases there has been a push back from surgeons. “Surgeons are taught in medical school that during scrubbing up that the water should be running constantly for the entire two or three minutes they are soaping up, however there doesn’t appear to be any clinical necessity for it,” says Shinn.

The medical community for a long time supported the idea that because of the function and process of healthcare that energy conservation would compromise patient care and outcomes. “In reality we know that is not true,” says Shinn. “The average hospital in the United States uses well over 100 kilowatt hours per square foot per year. However, through-out other countries in the developed world, the energy averages are less than half those in the US with the same level of patient outcome,” he said. “The bottom line is that LEED® is not all that cutting edge, it is simply good design practice”, he concluded.



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