Green Guide for Healthcare

The Green Guide for Healthcare (GGHC) is a best-practices guide for healthy and sustainable building design, construction and operations for the healthcare industry. It is based on the LEED rating system (and licensed from USGBC) and has been strongly supported by architects designing healthcare projects as well as by the industry. Unlike LEED for New Construction, GGHC is divided into separate sections for construction and ongoing operations. The version 2.1 pilot program has more than 115 healthcare facilities participating, as of early 2007, representing more than 30 million square feet of new construction projects. GGHC version 2.2 was released early in 2007. In the fall of 2007, LEED for HealthCare will be released, to complement GGHC version 2.2. The GGHC protocol has 42 core credits (vs. 32 in LEED) and 96 total core points (vs. 64 in LEED). The green operations section of GGHC has also been used as a standalone best-practices guide for healthcare facilities.

The business case for greening healthcare facilities is best summed up with a few items:

• A $100,000 annual savings in operating costs for energy and water is equivalent to the profit from generating $2.7 million in new revenue

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because hospitals are constantly facing pressures on increasing revenues, costs savings from green buildings make fiscal sense.57

• Greening healthcare facilities is completely in line with the core values of health and healing. This commitment to building and operating healthy facilities fulfills the physician's first dictum: "First, do no harm." Greener facilities resonate with staff values at all levels.

• Greening healthcare facilities provides better outcomes for patients. Getting them home faster is beneficial for them and economically advantageous for the hospital or clinic.

• Greener facilities also help with recruitment and retention of key staff, such as nurses, by providing green relief from a hospital's stressful environment.

• Greener hospitals are great for public relations, showing the community that the institution cares for more than its immediate surroundings. This is important, since almost 90% of hospitals are nonprofits and compete fiercely for public support in many arenas.

In terms of the cost of implementing green building criteria in hospitals, architect and cost management specialist Lisa Matthiessen says:

The cost situation is going to be about the building management process. You have to be committed to green building, and you have to share that vision with all the stakeholders. You have to be clear about its goals and expectations.. .and you have to write an integrative design process plan.58

Interior designer Jan Stensland with Kaiser Permanente, one of the oldest and largest healthcare organizations in the country, says, "There is a learning curve to all this, but the bottom line is the people factor. We are in this business to serve people. The best, most heartwarming result of these changes is the staff s appreciation of our efforts."59

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