Hospitals Increasing Green Building
More hospitals and medical centers are turning to energy efficient building options, according to an article in the Modern Healthcare. Whether renovating an existing structure, constructing a new site, or finding alternative sources of power, healthcare systems are choosing conservation options. Energy conservation features help the healthcare industry spend less on energy consumption. This is especially important with increasing energy prices and decreased revenue.
Energy Efficient Building Options
New medical centers and hospitals are adding features such as
- Reflective roofing or cool roofs, keeping surfaces cool and increase roof
- lifespan. The EPA states that cool roofs save “building owners 20-70% in annual cooling energy use”
- High-efficiency glass, block heat and keep out cold
- Natural lighting, allow for more sunlight and less electricity spent on lighting
- Alternative power sources, such as solar or wind
- High-efficiency light fixtures with occupancy sensors, increase energy efficiency by using sunlight and limited lighting, depending on the amount of sunlight available
- East-west construction, to reduce heat gain by decreasing sun exposure
- Rooftop gardens, create insulation and extend roof lifespan
Current Healthcare Utility Costs
The healthcare industry is one of the largest contributors to pollution. Healthcare buildings are also the third largest non-office, non-mall commercial energy consumer, according to the Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey by the U.S. Energy Department. The next survey, due out in 2017, is now being conducted. In 2015, £7.44 billion was spent on utilities in 129,000 healthcare buildings. Although utilities costs only average about 1 percent of hospital expenses, the healthcare industry still accounts for 11 percent of all U.S. commercial energy use.
Global Health and Safety Initiative
Kaiser Permanente, California’s leading HMO, initiated the Global Health and Safety Initiative, along with 22 other healthcare systems and several hundred hospitals. The initiative focuses on taking a closer look at safety issues affecting patients and healthcare environmental issues. One of the topics, Environmental Safety and Sustainability, aims to develop the “best environmental practices” for medical centers and hospitals. The Global Health and Safety Initiative aims to “improve environmental performance of healthcare”.
Energy Efficient Building Example
The newly opened Slocum Center for Orthopedics & Sports Medicine in Eugene, Oregon is gaining national attention for its energy efficient design. The new orthopedic center cost roughly £20 million to build, including £1 to 2 million for the added energy conservation features. The added features will, in turn, pay for themselves as the new center will save 37 percent in utility costs, with 46,000 square feet of added room. The energy efficient features include
- Reflective roofing
- High-efficiency glass and light fixtures
- Natural lighting
- East-west construction