July 8, 2014

San Ramon medical offices earn LEED Gold

Earlier this spring, the Kaiser Permanente San Ramon (Calif.) Medical Offices, which opened its doors in late 2013, earned the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification for its commitment to sustainability and environmentally friendly design.

Notable environmentally friendly features of the three-story, 67,000-square-foot San Ramon Medical Offices include:

  • During construction, 93 percent of the on-site generated construction waste was diverted from landfill. LEED certification requires only 50 percent be diverted.
  • Materials low in volatile organic compounds and other harmful chemicals were used throughout the offices.
  • Nearly 93 percent of the medical offices' power usage comes from Energy-Star rated equipment.  A minimum of 50 percent is required for the LEED certification.
  • Easy access to public transportation: Five bus lines are within one-quarter mile of the medical offices, and there are 16 bike racks available

Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED is a rating system that serves as a guide for the design, construction and operation of green buildings. The LEED certification system rates such features as pedestrian friendliness, sustainable site development, water and energy use, indoor environmental quality and chemical avoidance. It’s considered one of the most influential forces in the world of building design.

Last year, Kaiser Permanente committed to pursuing a minimum of LEED Gold on all new medical offices, hospitals, and major construction projects — affecting dozens of buildings over the next 10 years.

“Kaiser Permanente understands that the health of the environment is inextricably linked to human health and the overall health of communities,” said Kathy Gerwig, Kaiser Permanente’s vice president for Employee Safety, Health and Wellness and environmental stewardship officer. “Embracing LEED gold as our standard for our built environment is a natural fit with our environmental stewardship program.”

Even before the commitment to LEED Gold certification, almost all new Kaiser Permanente construction since 2007 has been built using the Green Guide for Healthcare, a rigorous, third-party green building verification system upon which the new LEED for Healthcare guidelines were based.

LEED certification does not mean overall higher costs.  The additional up-front costs are expected to be paid back several times over in operational savings during a building’s lifetime.

The LEED certification represents just one of a myriad of Kaiser Permanente’s green building practices. For example, the organization was among the first in health care to eliminate PVC (polyvinyl chloride) from carpets and flooring, working with manufacturers in 2004 to introduce several new PVC-free building products to the market when none existed. And on June 3, Kaiser Permanente announced that it is no longer purchasing furniture treated with toxic flame retardants.

Kaiser Permanente has been recognized for reducing its carbon footprint. Earlier this month, Practice Greenhealth honored Kaiser Permanente for its continued excellence in environmental stewardship with 32 awards