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Featured Article:

An Overview of LEED for Healthcare

Mitchell Bryant

From hospitals and maternity wards to nursing homes, healthcare facilities are, in general, locations where healthcare is provided. As research continues to bring forth new ideas and techniques to promote healing, one idea specifically aims to create sustainable medical facilities that improve the health of the patients as well as the health of the environment.

The LEED for Healthcare Green Building Rating System is an arrangement of guidelines and performance standards for certifying health care facilities. The goal is to promote clean, healthy, affordable, durable, and environmentally friendly practices into the construction and design of the building. The rating system consists of points or credits accumulated by saving energy, having accessible transportation, and mitigating the runoff of storm water. To earn LEED certification, the project must fulfill all prerequisites and qualify for a minimum number of credits. After the credits are calculated, the facility gets its rating (Silver, Gold, or Platinum). To put it simply, the more credits a facility receives, the more sustainable the facility is.

Prerequisites and credits in LEED for Healthcare addresses 7 topics

● Sustainable Sites (SS)

● Water Efficiency (WE)

● Energy and Atmosphere (EA)

● Materials and Resources (MR)

● Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ)

● Innovation in Design (ID)

● Regional Priority (RP) Sustainable Sites

The site on which the facility sits is one of the most important topics to consider when it comes to the relationship between the healthcare facility and the environment. LEED for Healthcare aims to strengthen this relationship by minimizing facility impacts on its neighboring habitat.

Required prerequisites include construction activity pollution prevention and environmental site assessment, which ensures that the site is assessed for environmental contamination and, if contaminated, that the environmental contamination has been remediated to protect occupant health. Credits can include alternative transportation to reduce pollution and land development impacts from automobile use, protecting and restoring the existing habitat to promote biodiversity, and managing stormwater runoff.

Water Efficiency

Water usage has sadly become something that many take for granted. Long showers, flushing a toilet, or even brushing oneís teeth consume more water than we generally realize. In fact, WaterSense adds that approximately 70 percent of the Earthís surface is covered by water, yet less than 1 percent is available for human use. For this reason, sustaining water is a key aspect in achieving LEED certification.

Required prerequisites include water use reduction to reduce the burden on municipal water supply and wastewater systems, as well as minimizing potable water use for medical equipment cooling. Credits can include water efficient landscaping and water use reduction pertaining to building equipment, cooling towers, and food waste systems.

Energy & Atmosphere

The burning of fossil fuels is known to be a key contributor in the production of carbon dioxide. Understanding new approaches to alleviate stresses on the atmosphere is a main focus for achieving the sustainability of energy.

Required prerequisites include fundamental commissioning of building energy systems, minimizing energy performance, and fundamental refrigerant management to reduce stratospheric ozone depletion. Credits can include optimizing energy performance to reduce excessive energy usage, green power, and community containment prevention of airborne releases.

Materials & Resources

When it comes to materials and resources, LEED wants facilities to consider materials that will have less impact on the environment by using recycled and recyclable content such as green flooring. This type of flooring is sustainably harvested from environmentally-friendly, reclaimed sources. Options include: Bio-based tile, carpet and carpet tiles, terrazzo, and polished concrete.

Required prerequisites include storage and collection of recyclables and reducing mercury-containing products and devices. Credits can include building reuseómaintaining existing walls, flooring, and roof, construction waste management, and choosing sustainably sourced material and product.

Indoor Environmental Quality

Air quality is important to every facility, yet it may be even more important when it comes to a healthcare facility. In a place designed to promote healing, air quality issues should to be non-existent.

Required prerequisites include minimum indoor air quality performance, environmental tobacco smoke control, and hazardous material removal or encapsulation (renovations only) such as mold and asbestos. Credits can include outdoor air delivery monitoring, indoor air quality management plan (during construction), and an indoor air quality management plan (before occupancy).

Innovation & Design

Innovation and design targets the utilization of new ideas and techniques for green design and construction.

Required prerequisites include project planning and design to maximize opportunities for integrated, cost-effective adoption of green design and construction strategies. Credits can include innovation in design, which provides design teams and projects the opportunity to achieve performance above the requirements set by the LEED Green Building Rating System.

Regional Priority

There are no prerequisites for Regional Priority.

The only credit for regional priority focuses on providing an incentive for the achievement of credits that address geographically-specific environmental priorities.

Regional priority credits will differ from one environmental location to the next. Certain zip codes can earn more points by primarily focusing on the reduction of landfill waste during construction, while others should focus more strongly on transportation access.

A database of Regional Priority credits and their geographic applicability is available on the USGBC website,

By focusing on the seven topics that LEED for Healthcare covers, your facility will establish itself as a site that promotes clean and healthy practices. Not only will you be telling the public that your site is environmentally friendly, but you can also obtain benefits that come along with following sustainable standards. Your facility can receive federal and state tax credits, as well as cost savings on monthly energy bills. LEED for Healthcare is a decision that is worthy of strong consideration. Using sustainable methods such as the conservation of energy will not only help sustain your facility, but it will also aid in the sustainability of our planet.

About the author: Mitchell Bryant is the communications specialist at Spectra Contract Flooring, the largest commercial flooring contractor in the U.S

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