Glimpse The Future of Green Building: A Webinar On Healthy Hospitals

Bill Walsh - July 24, 2006

US Green Building Council CEO Rick Fedrizzi is fond of saying that future demand for green buildings will be driven by their positive impacts on human health. On Wednesday July 26, 2006 Environmental Design + Construction magazine will sponsor a webinar on the greening of health care facilities that should attract all green building professionals interested in this future. The 2:00 PM EST educast, First, Do No Harm, will highlight the pioneering efforts of health care institutions to define criteria for buildings and building materials that are healthier for people and the planet.

For several years now, the health care community has been quietly leading the way in developing green building guidelines that promote the use of healthier building materials and designs. Much of the credit for this leadership rests with the diverse stakeholder groups that comprise the Steering Committee of the Green Guide for Health Care (GGHC/Guide) and the institutions involved in the Hospitals for a Healthy Environment program (H2E). [1]

Over 24 million square feet of health care facilities, including projects from 25 states and 3 Canadian provinces are being transformed using the Guide, a metric tool for evaluating the health and sustainability of building design, construction, maintenance and operations for the health care industry.

The informative GGHC website [2] explains that the organizational structure on which the Guide is based has been borrowed by agreement from the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System® (LEED®). The Guide is not a LEED® Rating System and not a product of the U.S. Green Building Council. But the LEED structure was largely mirrored in the Guide because it is a familiar and effective tool being used by a rapidly growing sector of the building design, construction, operations and maintenance industries. A USGBC representative sits on the Steering Committee of the GGHC.

According to the GGHC, the Guide directly incorporates the language of LEED credits for many of its own. In some cases, existing LEED credits have been modified to respond to the unique needs and concerns of healthcare facilities. In others, new credits have been added beyond those in current LEED products.

The Guide builds on the LEED family of products by addressing the particular structural, usage, and regulatory challenges of healthcare buildings. The Guide also addresses -- and here is where one can glimpse the future of the green and healthy building movement -- public health issues that comprise an important part of what it means for a healthcare institution to address sustainability in their building portfolio.

Plastics and chemical industry opposition to these issues has paralyzed the US Green Building Council since 2000. The GGHC demonstrates that it is possible to address them with the widespread support of diverse stakeholders.


Footnotes

[2] In order to portray the relationship between the GGHC and LEED with precision, much of the text describing that relationship is taken directly from the GGHC website.


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