Celebrating a rebirth
Kiowa comes back LEED platinum certified
Four years ago last week, Kiowa County Memorial Hospital—along with most of Greensburg, Kan., its hometown— was destroyed by a tornado. On May 21, the hospital will celebrate not only its rebirth, but its designation as just the second hospital in the nation to achieve LEED platinum status under the U.S. Green Building Council’s program recognizing environmentally sustainable building construction and operation.
Only one other hospital has achieved platinum status in the USGBC’s LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) program: Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas, Austin. The 176-bed Seton Family of Hospitals facility opened in July 2007 and was certified platinum in March 2009.
Fifteen-bed, critical-access Kiowa County Memorial received its certification March 2 in an announcement that didn’t garner much fanfare. Mary Sweet, the hospital’s administrator, said they hope to make up for that May 21 when the certification is celebrated in Hutchinson, Kan., about halfway between Greensburg and the Wichita office of their architects, Health Facilities Group. “We’ll retell the process,” she said. “And then tell ourselves we did a good job.”
The USGBC reports that more than 225 healthcare facilities have received LEED certifi- cation of some sort. These buildings were certified under a general LEED construction program, and last month the organization introduced its new LEED for Healthcare program which was specifically geared for inpatient, outpatient, licensed long-term care and assistedliving facilities as well as medical offices and medical education and research centers.
There are a possible 69 points a facility can achieve in the LEED program, and Kiowa County scored a 55. To achieve basic LEED certification requires a score of 26; silver status requires at least a 33; followed by gold at 39; and 52 for platinum.
A 100-foot-tall wind turbine helped add points for renewable energy and “green power” at Kiowa County, and Sweet hopes to install a 140-foot-tall turbine in July. City council approval is needed for that one, but as Greensburg was recognized April 8 by the UN as a Global Green City, the council would seem likely to allow it. There are five other LEED platinum buildings in Greensburg, including a Bucklin Tractor and Implement dealer, Centera Bank and an arts center.
The hospital failed to score the available points for achieving daylight lighting and outdoor views in 75% and 90% of spaces, but the overall impact of additional natural indoor light has made a significant impact. “It’s created such a warm environment,” Sweet said. “I just think our hospital just turned out to be very warm and inviting—so I’m more proud of that than the LEED certification.”
The May 4, 2007 tornado killed 13 people and left 68 of the old 25-bed hospital’s 95 fulland part-time staffers homeless. Sweet marked the anniversary by speaking about the experience at the Rural Hospital Conference in Colorado Springs, Colo. The talk was made more poignant by the recent storms that struck the Southeast. “Our hearts go out to the people in Alabama,” Sweet said. “They have a long road ahead of them.”