Smart Hospital Design Protects the Environment

Over the last decade, we have seen an increase in awareness about sustainable construction and design for all kinds of buildings, from private homes to corporate headquarters. Hospitals face special challenges in operating energy-efficient facilities because they operate 24/7 and must comply with many strict federal, state and local code requirements.

A modern hospital can be energy and water intensive. Nationally, hospitals average about 315 gallons of water per bed per day . Large hospital buildings in 2007 consumed a total of 458 trillion BTU in major fuels such as natural gas, electricity and fuel oil. That’s enough to power five billion private homes!

From the beginning of the design phase over a decade ago, hospital officials teamed up with architects, designers and contractors to achieve certification in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, also known as LEED. LEED is a rating system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council that judges the design, construction and operation of buildings deemed to be ‘green.’

Starting with demolition to prepare the sites of the new hospitals, construction crews recycled nearly 90 percent of the concrete and other materials that were torn down.

Water Conservation

Experts say that California may be destined for a long, if not permanent, state of drought. CPMC is doing its part to conserve water with some key design features. With specific design features, CPMC will:

  • Save three million gallons of water per year through use of low-flow plumbing fixtures
  • Save 180,000 gallons of drinkable water per year by capturing rainwater from the roof and using it to drip-irrigate landscaping
  • Rainwater will also be used to operate rooftop cooling towers, which are used for air conditioning systems in the hospitals

Energy Efficiency

CPMC has implemented designs aimed at using 14 percent less power than the average US hospital. Key design features that will help achieve this goal include:

  • High efficiency windows
  • Patient rooms have been designed to receive abundant natural outdoor light without glare
  • Super insulated roofs
  • Sensors that automatically turn lights off and on depending on whether they are occupied
  • Non-emergency outdoor lights can be programmed as needed

These measures are one example of the ongoing commitment of Sutter Health to enhance the health of the community by contributing to the health of the environment.