Metro Cited For Green Efforts

July 9, 2007
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GRAND RAPIDS — Metro Health has gained some national attention for its environmentally sensitive construction and business processes, specifically in a McGraw-Hill Construction report released in June.

The Health Care Green Building SmartMarket Report featured Metro Health along with the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. The report was sponsored by Johns Manville, Turner Construction Co. and U.S. Green Building Council. It looked at sustainability and environmentally friendly construction projects in the $23.7 billion health care construction industry. Turner Construction is the contractor for the new MetroHospital nearing completion in Wyoming

For the report, McGraw-Hill conducted an online survey of 95 senior health care and hospital administrators during January and February.

Among the findings:

  • 60 percent think environmental sensitivity will change health care construction and design.
  • 19 percent — triple the number for this year — expect to be involved in environmentally sensitive building projects in 2008.
  • 76 percent think the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System is valuable.

Jarrad Pitts, Metro Health’s manager of property and construction, said that green construction techniques are important to controlling ever-increasing energy costs.

“I would hope it would be an altruistic thing, but in reality, when you talk about building and development in most cases, 99.9 percent of them — it’s going to come down to the money: ‘Is it going to make me money? Can I do it cheaper?’

“As energy costs and energy efficiency codes keep going up and becoming more stringent, LEED and green are going to continue to grow.”

Pitts points to the most recently built Metro Health outpatient clinic on

Cascade Road
, where energy-efficiency measures are expected to pay for themselves in three to four years.

Green has also become a marketing tool, Pitts said, noting the attention Metro Health’s new facility is receiving for its 47,000-square-foot green roof, which is covered with plants. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality last fall awarded Metro Health a $400,000 grant for the green roof and for using bioswales and rain gardens in the parking lot.

“I don’t care why they’re buying a more energy-efficient unit, as long as they are,” he added.

The hospital was cited in May by Hospitals for Healthy Environment for changing to more environmentally friendly operational practices. Accomplishments include reducing overall waste by 38 tons since 2004 and using environmentally friendly cleaning supplies.

Pitts said the hospital even has ditched Styrofoam cups and plates, which disintegrate over decades, to cups made from wheat grass starch that degrade in the landfill within six months.     

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