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Hospitals and Sustainability - is it enough to be LEED certified?

With soaring energy prices worldwide, expanding international conflicts, and a protracted global pandemic recovery, the importance of energy efficiency—especially in industries known for producing waste at higher rates—is higher than ever before. The healthcare industry, and thus healthcare-related construction, is one of the highest producers of waste and energy consumption in the United States. An average healthcare facility produces 5 million tons of waste annually, so it is essential that the industry strive to become more energy-efficient and reduce its carbon footprint. Along with the healthcare industry, the construction industry also plays a significant role in waste production, averaging 13,500 tons of waste per day.

The first step is to identify the challenges in constructing a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified healthcare facility. Evaluating current healthcare facilities that have achieved LEED status and the differences between them will shed light on which practices work best. Reviewing the current LEED certification process and checklists for healthcare facilities will also assist in creating a process that not only ensures the buildings are energy efficient but also is specifically curated to address the complex demands of building a multifaceted structure.

A healthcare facility’s primary goal is to provide an environment where patients can receive care and promote healing. LEED’s goal is to promote green building through a framework of various criteria to reduce energy consumption. These two competing priorities contradict each other and make achieving both high LEED certifications and high patient care difficult. Hospitals in general consume more energy and water than any other facility, which makes the LEED certification process unique, if not flawed.

For a deeper insight into how three New York City hospitals manage to achieve LEED certification while still producing high levels of medical and water waste and consuming high levels of energy, click below.

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