News Analysis

Healthcare May Take LEED in New Directions

The Green Guide for Health Care (GGHC) has provided guidance for the design, construction, and operations of healthcare facilities since it was developed in 2003. From the beginning, GGHC was designed to be a voluntary, self-certifying best practices toolkit. After a two-year pilot period that included 115 projects, GGHC version 2.2 was released in January 2007, and the guide provided the foundation for a full-fledged registration and self-certification system. Working collaboratively with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), GGHC provided expertise in developing LEED for Healthcare, which was released for its first public comment period in November 2007. After anticipated revisions and a second public comment period in early 2008, a balloted version should be available in spring 2008, providing the first third-party certifiable green building rating system for healthcare facilities.

The current draft of LEED for Healthcare incorporates many aspects of GGHC, including credits that would, if approved, address topics that so far haven’t been targeted by credits in other LEED rating systems. According to Brendan Owens, vice president of LEED technical development, the rating system addresses some challenges that are unique to healthcare settings. “We want to have a document that brings human health more front and center than other LEED systems might," he said. Among these is a prerequisite requiring project teams to use an integrated design process. The project team must set goals, conduct a design charrette, state the health mission statement of the project, and outline the owner’s requirements. Another credit is available for teams that practice integrated design at a higher level. Of this credit, Gail Vittori, chair of the LEED for Healthcare committee and a member of the GGHC steering committee, said that “putting the spotlight on integrated design to highlight the shared goals for the project is the way to set a project on a solid pathway to a successful outcome.”

Published January 1, 2008