USGBC Launches New LEED Standard for Healthcare

The movement to make medical centers, hospitals and other healthcare facilities greener has taken a step forward with the U.S. Green Building Council formally launching its LEED standard for healthcare.

The USGBC detailed its latest Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standard at the annual CleanMed conference, which was held this year in Phoenix, Ariz.

"Research has shown that when we are treated and heal in a green healthcare facility -- one that has a healthy indoor environmental quality and connects us to the outdoors -- we heal faster, have shorter hospital stays and fewer return visits," said USGBC Senior Vice President for LEED Scot Horst in a statement Friday. "LEED for Healthcare is now six years in the making, addressing the healthcare industry's unique green building needs."

After two years of initial development, the USGBC introduced LEED-HC as a pilot in 2007. The organization worked with the Green Guide for Healthcare, a project of the Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems and Health Care Without Harm, to produce the standard.

More than 225 facilities have been certified to the standard and 1,176 more are in the pipeline as registered projects. These are some of the more prominent facilities that have earned LEED-HC certification -- all of them at the platinum level, the highest possible in the green building rating and assessment system:

The Kiowa County Memorial Hospital in Greensburg, Kansas, which received its LEED-Platinum certification last month; the Mirabella Continuing Care Retirement Community in Portland, Ore., October 2010; the Baltimore Medical System's headquarters in Maryland, July 2010; the Utah Valley Planned Parenthood in Orem, Utah, in June 2010; the Cognitive Behavior Institute, Albuquerque, N.M, in December 2009; the Dell Children's Medical Center in Austin, January 2009; the Mint Dental Works in Portland, Ore., July 2008; Ronald McDonald House in Austin, Texas, in May 2008; and the Oregon Health and Science University's Center for Health & Healing in Portland in February 2007 -- the first medical office building to attain LEED-Platinum certification under the healthcare standard.

Formalization of the green building standard is the most recent development in the movement to make the healthcare industry -- a huge consumer of electricity and generator of waste -- more environmentally responsible. The work includes green building, renovation and renewable energy efforts, as well as initiatives that are aimed changing industry practices, such the drive to green operating rooms and Kaiser's requirement that medical suppliers provide environmental information about their products.

Image courtesy of Dell Children's Medical Center.