FacilityCare Magazine

March/April 2012

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GREENING HEALTHCARE Why wouldn't a patient choose a medical facility that has a lower turnover of doctors and nurses; lower rates of infection and mis- takes; access to nature; and a generally, healthier feel to the air and water? Why LEED Isn't for Everyone Despite the apparent advantages, LEED- HC may not work for everyone. Healthcare administrators and facility managers need to look at both cost and feasibility of becoming LEED-certified. 1. The process of certifica- tion is expensive and time- consuming. LEED certi- fication requires a mountain of paperwork to pore over and submit. The USGBC requires detailed documentation for each aspect of certifi- cation, amounting to costs that can be 1- 2 percent of the total project cost. On tight budgets, that amount can be pro- hibitive. However, facility managers can evaluate whether the long-term cost-sav- ings are enough to shoulder the up-front expenditure. 2. LEED certification may not be feasi- ble. LEED-HC requirements simply may not be possible for a facility. For example, an existing facility can't apply for LEED certification at all unless it's undergoing a complete renovation. And, as many facility managers experi- ence, they may not be able to achieve enough LEED points to receive any type of certification, because of physi- cal building, environmental or site constraints or because of materials or planning costs. 3. The healthcare landscape is changing quickly. While LEED-HC is a well- researched and tested guide of the best sustainable practices in healthcare facilities, it's still new. At the same time, healthcare facilities are dynamic and constantly changing. Equipment and technology used today may be replaced by new innovations in two years, changing energy and other mechanical requirements. The formality of LEED may not take those fast changes into consideration. 22 | FACILITYCARE facilitycare.com MARCH/APRIL 2012 "" LEED Alternatives Being a LEED-certified facility is no guar- antee that patients will come or that nurses will stay. However, the sustainable practices outlined by the USGBC are sound, saving energy and producing a safer, higher-quali- ty working environment. Instead of formal- ly applying for LEED certification, many building project managers follow LEED guidelines without filling out all the paper- work or applying for certification. They In addition to minimizing environmental impact, buildings constructed to LEED standards enjoy long-term savings on both electricity and water. enjoy the benefits of energy savings and sustainable buildings without the adminis- trative costs – but also without the formal stamp of approval from the USGBC. Building managers in existing facilities can explore the LEED guidelines to find "low-hanging fruit" – strategies that are easy and low-cost to implement. Examples include replacing old faucets with water- saving models, having staff members bring their own plants to work to improve air quality, using sustainably sourced products and materials (which have become more cost competitive) or, for new projects, selecting a location close to public trans- portation. The First Steps – Taking the LEED Plunge Before jump- ing headfirst into LEED, some first steps can help deter- mine whether the process will make sense for a par ticular healthcare facil- ity. 1. Check the prerequisites. The USGBC website (usgbc.org) features everything individuals need to start exploring the LEED process, including a document outlining "Minimum Program Requirements." This short, four-page guide delineates conditions under which buildings and facilities can

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