When considering building and development sustainability, hospitals are a primary candidate. They consume approximately twice as much energy as the traditional office building and produce much more waste. Additionally, promising studies are under way linking improved patient health to more environmentally friendly buildings.
Even as far back as the Industrial Revolution prominent philosophers have thought about the damaging health impacts of not protecting the environmental world. As of late this idea has begun to take root and we have seen a monumental push towards greater awareness, especially within hospitals, which have a great deal to gain from going green including improve patient and community health and impressive financial savings.
Here’s a look at how some of the most successful ways in which hospitals are going green.
Martha Vineyard’s Hospital (Oak Bluffs, MA)
Martha Vineyard’s Hospital has worked hard to redesign the building in a meaningful way that can benefit not only the patients, but the community in general. In fact, it received a Gold Certificate from the US Green Building Council’s LEED program in 2011 for its efforts. Nearly the entire building is built around conservation of energy and resources.
For instance, the building purchased low-energy technologies that dropped the annual electrical consumption over 70 percent during a two year period. Furthermore, over 200 photovoltaic panels were installed to utilize solar energy. Not only did this further lower the yearly electric bill, but it also provided a number of significant benefits to the community; one kilowatt of solar energy is roughly the equivalent of planting 200 trees.
New York Presbyterian Hospital (New York City)
One of the primary goals of the New York Presbyterian Hospital is to manage and reduce the amount of waste leaving the facility. This is a huge contributor to carbon emissions since US hospitals produce over 5.9 million tons of waste every year. New York Presbyterian has set a personal goal of reducing both waste and emissions by 30 percent before 2018.
In order to obtain this goal, the hospital has put a great deal of effort into adopting a recycling policy that seeks to limit the amount of metal, plastic, and paper that enters our landfills. It has also been at the forefront of finding beneficial ways to manage and safely dispose of biohazardous materials.
Medical Center of the Rockies (Loveland, CO)
The Medical Center of the Rockies is one of the largest healthcare facilities to earn a LEED certification and one of the only ones to host a critical care facility with the same award. It has achieved this standard through a concentrated effort to both bring in efficient technologies and to hire like-minded individuals, which according to Bradley University, is critical to challenging the status quo within the healthcare industry.
During the building process alone, the hospital was able to recycle over 3 million pounds, or approximately 75 percent of its construction waste. Nearly 50 percent of the lighting in the facility if provided by daylighting, which helps to reduce the need for artificial light. Natural lighting has also been associated with less stress and more natural sleep patterns which are major benefits. Furthermore, it has saved the hospital a significant chunk of money on their electricity bill and use nearly 35 percent less energy than a normal hospital of the same size.
Written by Brittni Brown