Along with research laboratories, hospitals are among the latest new construction projects to focus on achieving LEED green building certification, the largest example of which now resides at 1620 W. Harrison Street in Chicago: Rush University Medical Center’s distinctive new Tower building. The facility, which opened in January, has now earned LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, making it the largest new construction healthcare project in the world to take this level of certification.
Designed by the Chicago arm of the Perkins+Will green architecture empire, the building earned its LEED points in the areas of water conservation, energy conservation and materials use, among other sustainable strategies.
In terms of water conservation, the Tower makes use of: green roofs to slow the flow of rainwater into city storm sewers (and, of course, reduce the the amount of solar gain during Chicago’s notoriously hot summer months); native, drought tolerant landscaping; irrigation supplied, in part, by reclaimed air handler condensation, which also supplies “makeup water” for the facility’s air conditioning chiller equipment; eco-friendly, low-water housekeeping solutions; and low-flow faucets and plumbing fixtures.
On the energy front, the building cuts its carbon footprint with energy-efficient heating, cooling and lighting systems, natural daylighting (aided by the hospital’s unique, butterfly-inspired shape) and energy-efficient lighting fixtures and bulbs. The building was constructed with around 20 percent recycled steel, as well as wallboard, concrete and interior wall coverings made up of 20 percent recycled materials. More than 70 percent of the hospital’s doors were made with Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood, and the facility has also instituted a comprehensive, campus-wide recycling program.