Is there anyone who disagrees with the goal of “going green”…of being more sustainable in our facility design and construction projects? In an environment where reducing operating expenses is as important as increasing revenue (both go right to the bottom line!), we need to take advantage of every opportunity. But where is the best place to start?
The cutting edge.
It’s exciting to visit a new hospital or other healthcare facility that has gone all out to use the latest technologies to reduce energy consumption, provide innovative and user-controllable lighting systems, and to reduce the carbon footprint of the building itself. Some of these strategies, such as those related to providing natural light, are thought to provide therapeutic benefits as well, and there are many studies in process designed to examine the correlation. Similarly, changing attitudes toward natural ventilation, which has long been common in Europe and elsewhere, may lead to new practices that serve both as energy-conserving and as infection-control measures.
The lowest hanging fruit.
While it isn’t as “sexy” as a bright new building, one of the most sustainable things any of us can do is to repurpose an existing building to meet new demands and requirements. Healthcare organizations often have plenty of real estate, but it is often outdated and poorly suited to the needs of today. Of course, there can be reasons why a retrofit/reconfiguration may be the wrong strategy (bad location, not near the patients being served, condition too far gone), but it may be worth a hard look at what might be achievable with a creative renovation.
If you are trying to decide whether to pursue a cutting edge new building, or the renovation of an existing one, you might consider a Vision and Strategy Review, a low cost analysis that can help you evaluate your options. It’s a great way to establish a strong foundation for your planning process.