Hospitals push green building standards

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Dan Green Kaiser Westside

Dan Green, Kaiser project director

Kaiser Permanente is designing its new $360 million westside hospital complex to meet some of the world’s strictest environmental standards.

Officials with the health care system believe the Kaiser Westside Medical Center in Tanasbourne will qualify for LEED Gold status, making it one of just 36 health care facilities in the world to earn that designation.

"That's no small undertaking," said Susan Mullaney, chief administrator of Kaiser's Sunnyside Medical Center in Clackamas who is overseeing the westside project. "We felt it was the important thing to do."

LEED — an acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design — is a system of sustainable design administered by the U.S. Green Building Council.

While LEED-certified buildings are becoming more common, few hospitals have been designed to meet the standard.

Worldwide, just 128 health care projects are LEED certified, and only 36 of those have met the LEED gold standard that Kaiser expects to reach, said Ashley Katz, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Green Building Council in Washington, D.C.

The problematic issue is that hospitals never close.

"We're energy intensive and 24/7," said Dan Green, a Kaiser project director overseeing the environmental aspects of the Tanasbourne development.

The dearth of LEED hospitals could come to an end starting early next year when the U.S. Green Building Council expects to release a new LEED standard specific to health care facilities.

Under the LEED system, buildings are awarded points divided among categories such as sustainable site selection, water efficiency, material sourcing, and energy use.

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