NEW YORK — A new report published by New York-based Perkins+Will shows that sustainable hospital design is beneficial, despite contradictory beliefs that LEED certification for hospitals is cost prohibitive. The study, titled LEED Certified Hospitals: Perspectives on Capital Cost Premiums and Operational Benefits, is the first to focus solely on the capital cost premium for hospitals to achieve LEED certification.
The research was conducted by Robin Guenther, FAIA LEED AP; Breeze Glazer, LEED AP from Perkins+Will; and Gail Vittori, LEED Fellow, from the Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems. They found that the average capital cost premium for LEED-certified hospitals under 100,000 square feet was 1.24 percent, and for hospitals over 100,000 square feet, the average cost premium was only 0.67 percent.
Hospitals are the largest contributor of carbon dioxide, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association, and they are responsible for 8 percent of the nation’s total carbon dioxide footprint. The average U.S. health care facility uses as much energy as 3,500 households.
Sustainable hospitals started being built to conserve natural resources, curb greenhouse gases and protect air and water quality. They also provide evidence of links between human health and the environment. The first LEED-certified hospital debuted in 2003 and more hospitals have followed in that path ever since.
While there are several sustainable hospital projects in operation, there have still been unanswered questions in terms of the value of LEED, which is why the researchers analyzed 15 LEED-certified hospitals that were completed between 2010 and 2012. The study uses data collected from interviews with project teams from the 15 hospitals. It expands upon a 2008 study done by the same researchers, who researched the capital cost premiums of 13 LEED-certified health care buildings. Both studies found cost premiums ranging from 0 to 5 percent: 2.4 percent in the 2008 study and 1.24 percent in the 2012 study.
Since the 2008 study was released, LEED has become a standard for many health care practices because the cost difference between sustainable and conventional hospital construction today is minimal, but the energy savings can significantly impact the environment, as well as the patients and staff working in the facilities.