LEED Gold for Kaiser Permanente’s Westside Medical Center in Hillsboro, Ore. signals shift.
OAKLAND, Calif. — As part of its ongoing commitment to create healthy communities, Kaiser Permanente today announced it will seek Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification for new construction of hospitals, large medical offices and other major projects.
“By adopting the LEED standard for all new major construction, we are demonstrating our commitment to green building strategies and to the total health of our communities,” said Don Orndoff, Kaiser Permanente senior vice president of National Facilities Services. “The LEED certification program provides an internationally recognized approach to building and operating well-designed buildings.”
The Kaiser Permanente Westside Medical Center in Hillsboro, Ore., opening in August 2013, is the first Kaiser Permanente hospital to earn LEED Gold status. The modern, 126-bed hospital will be Kaiser Permanente’s 38th hospital. With plans to spend roughly $30 billion over the next 10 years on hospital and medical office construction, Kaiser Permanent’s LEED Gold commitment is expected to affect 14 million square feet of real estate, or more than 100 buildings over the next 10 years.
LEED is a rating system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council that serves as a guide for the design, construction and operation of green buildings. Buildings are awarded points for environmentally significant practices and sustainable features. The LEED certification system’s rigorous strategies for such features as pedestrian friendliness, sustainable site development, water and energy use, indoor environmental quality and chemical avoidance have made it one of the most influential forces in building design in the world.
Kaiser Permanente’s wide-scale pursuit of LEED certification formalizes its longstanding commitment to green building practices. For many years, Kaiser Permanente has led the industry in demanding environmentally sustainable materials for its buildings. For example, the organization was among the first in health care to eliminate polyvinyl chloride (PVC) from carpets and flooring, working with manufacturers in 2004 to introduce several new PVC-free building products to the market when none existed.
Kaiser Permanente is also a leader in addressing climate change. The organization generated 17 million kilowatts of clean energy in 2012 via solar panels at 11 hospitals and other buildings in California — one of the largest health care solar installations in the country. In 2012, the organization committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent from a 2008 baseline by 2020 through renewable energy, improving the energy efficiency of existing buildings and ambitious goals for new construction.
“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. We see it as an important demonstration of our commitment to creating healthy communities that support healthy people.”
In addition, LEED does not mean excessive cost. In fact, when LEED is included from the beginning as an integral part of the design process, the result is a sustainable building at little added cost. Westside Medical Center achieved LEED Gold certification for a net additional cost of less than 1 percent of the total cost of construction, and those additional up-front costs are expected to pay back fivefold in operational savings over the medical center’s lifetime.
Kaiser Permanente has sought LEED certification before. The organization earned a “LEED Platinum for existing buildings” designation for its Napa (Calif.) Data Center, and its Gwinnett and Townpark medical centers in Georgia are both expected to earn LEED Silver. In addition, almost all new 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.
For its continued excellence in environmental stewardship, Kaiser Permanente earned a record 29 environmental excellence awards this year from Practice Greenhealth, a national membership organization for hospitals and health systems committed to environmentally responsible operations and care.
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, our mission is to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve more than 9.1 million members in nine states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health.