The U.S. Green Building Council awarded Spectrum Health's Lemmen-Holton Cancer Pavilion LEED gold certification last week, making it the first healthcare facility in Michigan to achieve this status. Lemon-Holton, which opened in June 2008, received the certification because of its energy conservation, lighting, water, and material use.
"We made a decision as an organization that moving forward with all construction we will go for LEED certification," says Carrie Manders, media relations manager for Spectrum Health, an eight-hospital system in Western Michigan. "We thought it was very important to be environmentally responsible, but it's something our patients were looking for as well."
Facility planners designed Lemon-Holton with a green certification in mind. Lemon-Holton reduced the urban heat island effect by using underground parking and reflective and vegetated roof areas, installing low-flow plumbing and rainwater collection, saving energy through heat recovery, HVAC, and lighting controls, using regional and recycled material products, and using materials that minimize emission of indoor air contaminants.
"We recognize the environmental impact that healthcare operations have because healthcare is one of the largest consumers of energy and we're bringing a lot of projects to the organization each day that potentially contain harmful materials," says Josh Miller, sustainability coordinator for Spectrum Health. "It's not only looking at the construction but how we operate the facilities as well."
Finding products, such as furniture, that are local, sustainably made, contain nontoxic materials, and are cost-competitive was one of the most difficult challenges when building the facility, Miller says. But in the long run the extra effort and dollars will have been well spent.
"It just makes financial sense to invest upfront in these energy saving technologies and ways to reduce waste," he says. "If we're bringing in green cleaning chemicals or other chemicals used in labs, then we're not having to dispose of a hazardous material if we have a spill. We're eliminating that by purchasing products that are not hazardous to begin with."