Metro Health Hospital LEED certification approved

February 1, 2009
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Metro Health Hospital joins eight other hospitals in the U.S. in receiving LEED certification for its new hospital, the adjacent central utility plant and an outpatient facility, according to the U.S. Green Building Council.

John Ebers, Metro Health sustainable business officer, said that the 208-bed, 452,000-square-foot hospital, which opened in Wyoming in 2007, is the first hospital in Michigan to earn Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design recognition from the U.S. Green Building Council for its inpatient facility.

“From our research, it seems to be somewhat unique,” Ebers said.

Certification, the lowest of four levels awarded by the USGBC, is particularly difficult for inpatient health facilities, which have construction requirements that are sometimes at odds with building code regulations, Ebers said. For example, building codes demand that surgical rooms exchange air 16 times per hour, a standard that does not meet LEED requirements, Ebers said.

Metro Health received a $500,000 challenge grant toward the hospital’s $170 million cost from the Kresge Foundation. Now that it has secured LEED certification, the foundation will donate another $150,000.

“We are extremely gratified to be recognized for our efforts to build an environmentally friendly hospital,” Metro Health President & CEO Mike Faas said in a prepared statement. “We took tremendous care in designing and building the new facility to ensure that we were being good stewards of our resources and reducing our footprint. By the nature of what we do, hospitals face challenges that most traditional businesses do not when it comes to environmental responsibility.” 

Ebers said architectural firm HDR Inc. was responsible for keeping track of LEED-related items during construction, such as adhesives and paints. “We have probably on the order of 150 to 200 office chairs we had to document,” Ebers said.

Ebers said hospital administrators from as far away as Japan and Chile and as close as Indiana have toured Metro Health with an eye toward meeting LEED standards in a health care setting.

“I think what we try to do is talk about, when you build your building, try to build it the best way you can,” he added. “If you incorporate LEED and what it stands for, a lot of what you’re going to do is a better quality building. Don’t think of the additional cost, but what are the benefits that are going to come to patients and visitors?”

Metro Health Hospital was constructed as the centerpiece of a 170-acre development called Metro Health Village. Every building in the development must be built for LEED certification. Already home to medical offices, service and retail buildings, as well as ITT Technical Institute and Hyatt Place, the development will include a YMCA, and a supermarket has been proposed, all of which would need to meet LEED standards.

As part of its commitment to environmental responsibility, Metro Health built a 48,500-square-foot green roof; planted a landscape that used such features as rain gardens, bioswales, and native and adaptive plants; used fabrics, furniture, paints, adhesives, sealants and carpet with low volatile organic compound emissions; eliminated the use of mercury; and used green cleaning supplies and biodegradable cups and glasses in the cafeteria.

Ebers said recycling has increased from 15 percent to 30 percent, partly because LEED standards have made the staff more aware of environmental concerns.

He said certification was awarded to the outpatient facility at 3912 32nd Ave. SW in Hudsonville. A similar facility is under construction in Allendale and is being built to LEED standards, he added.

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