LEED rules studied for health care
December 15, 2008
December 15, 2008 (North Bay Business Journal) -- The U.S.
Green Building Council will soon launch the first-ever LEED rating system for
health care that awards points not only for environmental benefits but also for
efforts to improve human health.
Today, new health care buildings seeking green certification
through LEED must qualify for platinum, gold, silver and other ratings against
the credentials written for general construction. But according to officials
who developed the health-specific, point-rating system, hospitals and other
medical buildings operate in such a way that some of the credit qualifications
“A lot of systems in health care have different needs –
sanitization of medical tools. You have to take into account energy
requirements that are more adapted to a 24-hour operation water-usage. The new
standards also take into account the need to have health care facilities in
rural areas,” said Deon Glaser, manager of LEED technical development.
A national manager for sustainable building design and
research for Kaiser Permanente said the nonprofit didn’t apply for LEED
certification for its green Vacaville hospital currently under construction
because its efforts align more closely with increasing the health and safety of
the people in the buildings in addition to the environment.
“All of our buildings would be considered green just based
on their energy and water use compared to other hospitals, but really more
important to Kaiser in our environmental efforts is preserving the health of
the people in the building,” said Kaiser sustainable building design and
research national manager Tom Cooper.
He said the Vacaville site, for example, was built with no
vinyl flooring, which wouldn’t earn it points under the traditional LEED system
but provides a huge public health benefit because of the level of toxins in the
material and strain for employees walking on the surface all day.
According to the draft LEED-for-health-care system, builders
could receive credit for these types of enhancements as well as others related
to human health.
“The creators of this system really wanted a comprehensive
approach to health. ... We wanted to focus on ways the building can help the
patient,” Ms. Glaser said.
Considerations including acoustics control and access to
views of natural areas are incorporated in the rating system, as well as
designing courtyards and places for patients that are calming and promote
health. Projects can also receive additional points for involving all parties
in the building design, including doctors, nurses and others that would work in
The building council recently completed the first round of
comments on the draft health rating system after several years of development
and a partnership with Green Guide for Health Care, which was created in 2002
and has already piloted a similar system.
The LEED health care committee is currently in the process
of making revisions to the document before opening it up for another review
sometime in the first quarter of next year. If no other revisions are needed,
the draft will go to the committee for vote and launch once it receives
approval. Ms. Glaser said they expect to complete the process in the second
quarter of 2009.
Also new to all rating systems next year, projects can
receive additional points for achieving credits listed as most vital to the
local environment. A hospital in the desert, for example, would receive an
extra point for prioritizing credits that save water.
Next year, the council will also transfer the certification
review process to a third-party organization called the Green Building