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Sustainable Elements for a LEED Gold Certified Hospital

Posted by Nicole Wood on Dec 20, 2012

Curved Roof Structure of LEED Building

Capital Health Medical Center – Hopewell recently achieved LEED Gold status from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).This six-story, 570,000 square-foot replacement hospital with an integrated, 330,000 square-foot Medical Office Building was designed in collaboration with HKS Architects and Anchor Health Properties and is one of only 28 other hospitals in the country to have received LEED Platinum or Gold status.

The design and construction of a LEED Gold hospital entails countless design and construction details. Starting with the goal of achieving basic LEED Certification, as the design process progressed through its various stages, it became more and more apparent to the design team that LEED Gold certification was achievable.

Array worked diligently to vet sustainable and regional materials (MRc4.1 & 4.2, MRc5.1 & 5.2) as well as their impact during installation to the indoor air quality (EQc4.1, 4.2, 4.3 & 4.4) to achieve maximum point values. Key highlights are outlined below.

Ceilings

We found that the research for this area was fairly simple to obtain. Some of the leading manufacturers of ceilings have been leading the charge with regard to sustainable practices. We looked not only for high recycled content but a regional manufacturer that could handle the extensive needs of a hospital environment with regards to acoustics, clean-ability and aesthetics.

Floors

Flooring is a much harder area to tackle. Indoor air quality played the biggest role in our selections. Our research led us to products that were PVC-free due to the association between PVC and the release of highly toxic dioxins and reproductive toxicants as well as being CRI Green Label Plus certified. PVC-free floorings that were used include rubber and PVC-free vinyl, which are also some of the lowest maintenance options available needing no waxing or buffing to maintain. This reduced the chemicals needed to clean and maintain the floors and minimized the human exposure to unhealthy toxins. They also happen to have great acoustic values, thus ensuring a quiet patient environment.

Carpet backing and adhesives were selected to be CRI Green Label Plus because we could be assured by a third party testing process that they had some of the lowest emissions in the industry, thus allowing us to achieve EQ credits 4.1 & 4.3.

Walls

In addition to using locally-sourced gypsum wall board, all the paint and primer used were low Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) water-based paints (not to exceed 10 g/l). Compared to traditional paints, this made the interior environment during the painting process a much easier place to work with. Wall protection in the form of sheet goods, handrails and bumper guards were all made with PVC & PBT-free materials and were Cradle to Cradle Certified.

Millwork

We were able to decrease the VOCs in the building even further by using substrates and adhesives such as particleboard that had recycled content. High recycled content, low-VOC construction materials including gypsum wall board, ceiling tile, carpet, resilient floor tile and recycled MDF substrates for millwork were used to offset the amount of new materials being used on site. This resulted in more than 20% pre and post-consumer recycled products. All interior finish materials were selected for their high recycled content or availability from a regional source. More than 25% of the materials were sourced from within 500 miles of the site. This included millwork, wood and Acrovyn doors, hardware, glass, decorative resin, ceilings, flooring and paint.

Indoor Environmental Quality

In general, the building is controlled by an overall time clock system. This time clock system covers all general public spaces such as the lobby, atrium, dining and mall areas as well as all public corridors. Since this is a 24-hour facility, there will always be a need for some lighting in the corridors. But since there are also concerns about patient care and quality of patient sleep, all corridors and general public space lighting has been divided into a minimum of three different control zones, with the general public spaces having many more levels of control. This strategy allows the hospital to decrease the amount of general lighting in the corridors and public spaces at night. Because these are general access spaces, there aren’t typical local controls, but there is a master control station located at the main desk of the Medical Center so that occupants can easily request changes to these general spaces if required.

The lighting in the patient corridors is also controlled locally at the nurse stations so that the staff can adjust the corridor lighting in their zones to suit the requirements of each unit.

All larger multi-occupant spaces such as large storage and work rooms, large conference rooms, waiting rooms, the servery and the kitchen also have over all time clock controls with local override switches in addition to local on/off switching for occupant control. These rooms are large and have zoned lighting controls so that occupants can turn on as much or as little light as they need to perform their tasks. The controls are located at each room entrance for convenience. For the waiting room areas, the lights are typically controlled at the reception or registration desk and local table lamps are provided throughout to allow for localized light level control.

All smaller spaces such as offices, small conference rooms, medication rooms, employee break rooms, on-call rooms, small toilet rooms, clean and soiled holding, general storage, nourishment, consultation spaces and exam rooms have occupancy sensor controls. These rooms are able to be lit regardless of the time of day. For rooms that typically have a regular occupant – such as offices – there is also local task lighting to allow those occupants to increase the light level if required. For multi-occupant rooms such as conference rooms where the tasks vary by user group, the lighting is controlled so that there are a minimum of two lighting zones, enabling occupants to vary the light level as required.

All patient rooms are controlled by local switches. The switches are located at the door to the room as well as at the patient bed head wall so that occupants can control the lighting in their room. All patient rooms are provided with a minimum of three lighting systems to suit the patient’s and clinician’s needs.

The overall vision for the Capital Health Medical Center was to take the current hospitality trend in healthcare and push it to new heights. The project motto, “I can’t believe it’s a hospital,” was derived from an intense series of visioning meetings at the beginning of the project. From programming through the design process and into construction, this motto has been the ongoing mantra of the entire design team.

The hospital, with a 223-bed patient tower is the first phase of a projected three-phase, 500-bed Master Plan. The facility blends the history of Capital Health, the comfort of a hospitality setting and the complex, high-tech aspect of modern medical care. This new medical center has been recognized as a leader in the delivery of quality healthcare while maintaining the comfort and reassurance of the emotional and spiritual balance of its patients, visitors and staff. With the recent LEED Gold Certification, it is recognized as a leader in sustainable design as well.

Click here to visit the project page for Capital Health on Array-Architects.com

Click here for our YouTube video, “Designing Capital Health Hopewell”

Click here for more information on Capital Health’s LEED Gold Certification on USGBC’s website and here

Click here to see Nicole's article featured on Medical Construction & Design's website

Topics: Architecture, Healthcare Design, LEED, Architects, Continuous Improvement, Healthcare, Advisory Services