Austin Children’s Hospital Earns First LEED-HC Platinum Certification

Did you know there’s a special LEED designation designed especially for health care facilities? Well, there is, and it’s called LEED for Health Care or LEED-HC. It was created to address the unique needs of hospitals and other health care facilities, which must remain in operation 24 hours a day, and consume a massive amount of energy because of technological equipment like CT scanners and vital sign monitors. That doesn’t mean they can’t go green in other ways, however.

Dell Children’s Medical Center in Austin, Texas, recently became the first building to receive a Platinum ranking under the new LEED-HC designation. The achievement embraces a growing body of research that shows people are healthier and heal faster when housed in a facility that utilizes green building strategies.

Dell Childrens Medical Center LEED

Image via andreanna

Like the traditional LEED program, LEED-HC certification requires that buildings must exceed environmental standards in five key areas: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

Salvaged materials and efficient, non-toxic medical equipment have all helped the recent expansion of Dell Children’s Medical Center earn the very first Platinum rating given out under the new, hospital-centric rating system, according to BuildingGreen.com.

Sixty percent of the materials used to build the $49 million dollar W.H. and Elaine McCarthy South Tower were sourced from salvaged or reused materials—effectively diverting 3,000 tons of waste from the landfill. The new tower is also home to efficient appliances that will reduce water waste by 38 percent.

“The new facility, which features an epilepsy monitoring unit and a toddler rehab center, has an outdoor labyrinth and a children’s sensory garden,” explains BuildingGreen.com. “Exposure to plants and natural sounds will be used to reduce stress and encourage movement for physical therapy. Green design principles also aligned with health goals in the decision to avoid persistent, bioaccumulative toxic (PBT) chemicals in interior furnishings and medical equipment.”

According to a press release, this is the second record-breaking LEED designation for Dell Children’s, which became the world’s first LEED Platinum Certified hospital in 2008.

Beth Buczynski is a freelancer writer and editor currently living in the Rocky Mountain West. Her articles appear on Care2, Ecosalon and Inhabitat, just to name a few. So far, Beth has lived in or near three major U.S. mountain ranges, and is passionate about protecting the important ecosystems they represent. Follow Beth on Twitter as @ecosphericblog

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