Sustainability Becomes a Priority in New Hospital Construction

September 2, 2008

According to the Washington Post, the United States is currently seeing a dramatic increase in hospital construction. American Hospital Association senior vice president Rick Wade is quoted in the article as saying that we are experiencing the most significant hospital building boom since after World War II. (For discussion of the various social and financial trends that are influencing this boom, as well as its economic ramifications, see the Washington Post article referenced above and Health Beat by Maggie Mahar.)

The Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend in Springfield, Oregon, which opened in August 2008, features many of the amenities that newer hospitals are becoming known for. The building is over 1,000,000 sq. ft in size, is set amidst 181 riverfront acres, and blends hospitality design with health care design. In fact, the design architect for the building was WATG, a firm that specializes in destination design and hospitality. Anshen+Allen was the architect of record, and focused on health care design.

One of the benefits putting such effort into making the hospital environment an uplifting one is that sustainable design has come to be considered part of the equation. The Corporate Social Responsibility Newswire calls the Sacred Heart facility one of the nation’s greenest hospitals.

The Sacred Heart Medical Center is part of the PeaceHealth Oregon Region system, and PeaceHealth’s volunteer governing board adopted environmental stewardship principles early in the hospital’s design phase. According to the PeaceHealth website, some of the green features implemented include:

  •  A chemical-free cooling water treatment system that protects groundwater (as well as the city sewer system). The chemical-free system is one of only seven in the nation.
  • The use of natural daylighting
  • The use of motion activated lights in non-clinical areas
  • Bioswales near parking lots to treat stormwater runoff
  • The inclusion of seven green roofs
  • Native landscaping, including extensive restoration of the McKenzie River and surrounding riverside
  • A master plan for the site that will allow the area around the hospital to eventually be a mixed-use area
  • Transit passes and bike paths which are intended to encourage the use of non-automobile traffic.

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To read more on green building for hospitality and medical facilities, see: