Healthcare projects face multiple obstacles in achieving sustainability. This paper aims to provide information regarding the energy consumption of healthcare facilities, to identify barriers to sustainability and to suggest methods to improve the effectiveness of these buildings.
This study investigates sustainability in healthcare buildings by examining national databases about energy use and energy savings. The authors then initiate a dialogue on this topic by interviewing experts in healthcare planning and design regarding the implications of this data, challenges to sustainability and potential solutions to these challenges.
An analysis of data from the Energy Information Administration revealed that healthcare facilities rank second among building types in the USA in energy use per square foot and rank fourth in total energy use. Data from the US Green Building Council showed that only 1 per cent of healthcare buildings are registered with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system, and 0.4 per cent have achieved certification, which is low compared with other building types.
Research and discussion must continue engaging all stakeholders to interpret the data and identify transformative solutions to facilitate sustainable healthcare design construction and operation.
It is important to approach sustainability in healthcare from social, economic, environmental and health-related perspectives. The authors identify five major barriers to sustainable healthcare design and construction and discuss 12 practical solutions.
Given the energy demands of healthcare buildings, facilitating their sustainability has the potential to make a significant difference in national energy use. Empirical research and evidence-based design can potentially help to accelerate sustainability by clarifying impacts and documenting the economic and operational returns on investment.
The authors would like to acknowledge all of the interviewed sustainable-design experts who shared their vision in this paper: Mara Baum, Breeze Glazer, Charles Griffin, Robin Guenther, Tushar Gupta, Komal Kotwal, Tyler Krehlik, Greg Roberts, Tara Myers June Uhlman and Elise Woodward. The authors would also like to thank Laurie Waggener and Zhe Wang, for championing the study by facilitating interviews with sustainable-design experts, and Francoise Vermeylen, statistical consultant, Nancy Wells, Associate Professor, and Divya Natarajan, graduate student at Cornell University, for contributing to the research.
Sagha Zadeh, R., Xuan, X. and Shepley, M. (2016), "Sustainable healthcare design: Existing challenges and future directions for an environmental, economic, and social approach to sustainability", Facilities, Vol. 34 No. 5/6, pp. 264-288. https://doi.org/10.1108/F-09-2013-0067Download as .RIS
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