Green Hospital Uses Nature’s Healing Power

In Hershey, Pa., the Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute, combining green design with accesss to nature for patients, has earned LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

This 176,000-square-foot cancer institute was designed by Boston-based Payette with input from the Sustainable Performance Institute, a Boston-based nonprofit with a mission to mainstream green building. The result is a modern medical facility laid out to make the most of its solar orientation, water efficiency, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

Hershey Cancer Institute

image via Architecture Record/Warren Jagger

Another key element of the building’s green design is, according to Payette, “driven by the belief that direct and visual access to nature plays a holistic role in healthcare,” providing a direct connection for visitors, guests and staff to experience “the healing power of nature.” These hallmark features are borne out with the facility’s “Healing Garden” and “Hospital Courtyard Garden,” which are essentially green roofs hidden over mechanical spaces.

Building materials and furnishings at the Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute contain a high percentage of recycled and regionally sourced content, and all of the wood used came from forestry sources that are certified sustainable. Special attention was also paid – appropriately enough – to ensuring healthy indoor air quality within the hospital.

The building was recently featured in Architecture Record.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.