Sus­tain­able build­ings

De­sign­ers fear con­struc­tion-rat­ing ef­fort will fall short

Modern Healthcare - - The Week In Healthcare - Andis Robeznieks

En­vi­ron­ment-minded health­care ar­chi­tects and hos­pi­tal de­sign­ers have been en­thu­si­as­ti­cally wait­ing for and help­ing in the devel­op­ment of a sus­tain­able-con­struc­tion rat­ing sys­tem aimed specif­i­cally at health­care fa­cil­i­ties. But now they’re ner­vous that the fi­nal prod­uct will be some­thing far less com­pre­hen­sive than they had hoped for and may even sig­nal a step back­ward.

The most rec­og­nized sys­tem for as­sess­ing a fa­cil­ity’s en­vi­ron­men­tal friend­li­ness is the U.S. Green Build­ing Coun­cil’s Lead­er­ship in En­ergy and En­vi­ron­men­tal De­sign rat­ing sys­tem. Cur­rently, health­care fa­cil­i­ties are as­sessed us­ing the same rat­ing cri­te­ria as of­fice build­ings. A nu­anced con­tro­versy is erupt­ing over the “sec­ond pub­lic com­ment draft” of the USGBC’s LEED for Health­care, the rat­ing sys­tem the or­ga­ni­za­tion is de­sign­ing specif­i­cally to as­sess the en­vi­ron­men­tal friend­li­ness of health­care fa­cil­i­ties.

The pub­lic com­ment pe­riod was sched­uled to end May 18, and some ob­servers are concerned that the new ver­sion re­moved rat­ing “cred­its” deal­ing with the re­moval and avoid­ance of ma­te­ri­als con­tain­ing “per­sis­tent, bio-ac­cu­mu­la­tive and toxic” pol­lu­tants, or PBTs, such as mer­cury, dioxin and the widely used polyvinyl chlo­ride from which vinyl floor­ing, sid­ing, pipes and con­duit are made.

John Koulet­sis, Kaiser Per­ma­nente’s na­tional di­rec­tor of strat­egy, plan­ning and de­sign, said LEED for Health­care is a tool the in­dus­try has been wait­ing for. “Hos­pi­tals have been in a weird po­si­tion, be­cause we’re quite a dif­fer­ent busi­ness,” he said. “But, in the ab­sence of that tool, health­care fa­cil­i­ties have been eval­u­ated in sort of an of­fice en­vi­ron­ment.”

A rec­og­nized “foun­da­tional ref­er­ence doc­u­ment” be­ing used to de­velop LEED for Health­care is the Green Guide for Health Care tool kit. Though both have been de­vel­oped in­de­pen­dently, there has been much cross-pol­li­na­tion, with the USGBC us­ing the guide to de­velop cri­te­ria for the LEED sys­tem, and the cre­ators of the Green Guide bor­row­ing heav­ily from the LEED rat­ing struc­ture to build its own pro­gram.

Ac­cord­ing to the USGBC, there are cur­rently 99 LEED-cer­ti­fied health­care fa­cil­i­ties with 857 reg­is­tered projects in the pipe­line.

Al­though the PBT-re­lated cred­its have been re­moved from the LEED for Health­care draft, Bren­dan Owens, vice pres­i­dent of LEED tech­ni­cal devel­op­ment, said they have been moved into a LEED Pi­lot Credit Li­brary where they are be­ing tested in all con­struc­tion sec­tors and have been given more promi­nence as a re­sult. Owens also ex­plained that the USGBC ’s test­ing of its cri­te­ria is driven more by the col­lec­tion of data than the pas­sage of time, so there is no telling when a suf­fi­cient amount of data will be col­lected to jus­tify es­tab­lish­ing a PBTre­lated rat­ing.

In the mean­time, there is con­cern that the con­struc­tion in­dus­try will adopt guide­lines that don’t ad­dress PBTs, never look back and push the more strin­gent Green Guide to the curb. “Peo­ple would like to get all the el­e­ments in Green Guide for Health Care adopted by the U.S. Green Build­ing Coun­cil in LEED for Health­care,” said Gina Pugliese, vice pres­i­dent of the Premier health­care al­liance’s Safety In­sti­tute. She ex­plained that, if LEED for Health­care doesn’t ad­dress PBTs, “It may back­track the progress we’ve made in get­ting these tox­ins out of the en­vi­ron­ment.”

Pugliese: Hopes Green Guide guide­lines are adopted.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.