Health Care Groups Launch First Green Building Guide for Hospitals

Health Care Groups Launch First Green Building Guide for Hospitals

With the health care sector in the midst of a major construction boom, a new tool has arrived to aid hospitals in their efforts to build facilities that are healthy for people and the environment. The "Green Guide for Health Care" is the first-ever green building best-practices guide created specifically for the health care sector.

"The Green Guide for Health Care sets the standard for high performance healing environments, and reflects the fundamental organizational mission of the health care industry: to protect and enhance individual and community health," said Robin Guenther, AIA, principal of Guenther 5 Architects and Green Guide for Health Care Co-Coordinator.

The Green Guide, a voluntary self-certifying system, is the product of a two-year, multi-stakeholder development and review process, convened by the Austin, Texas-based Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems. Sponsors include the New York State Energy and Research Authority, Merck Family Fund, and Hospitals for Healthy Environment (H2E), a joint project of American Hospital Association, American Nurses Association, Health Care Without Harm, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Major health care facilities, including Kaiser Permanente, the largest nonprofit health plan in the US, have agreed to pilot test the Green Guide over the next year.

The Green Guide's organizational structure has been borrowed by agreement from the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED rating system, modifying and adding to it to meet the needs and priorities of the health care industry. The guide, however, is not a LEED rating system nor a product of the U.S. Green Building Council.

The Green Guide, in addition to being custom fit for health care facilities, explicitly addresses the health issues associated with every credit, from site selection to building materials. For instance, the Green Guide offers credits for the elimination of persistent bioaccumulative toxic chemicals, such as mercury and dioxin, from building materials. Other credits reward energy performance within the rigorous regulatory structure of healthcare facility operations.

More than 1,600 people have already registered to download the new pilot version of GGHC. Design and facility management teams in any stage of design, construction or operations are invited to register their projects and participate in the pilot program.