Dell Children's Recognized as World Class Green Hospital January 14, 2009
We at the Seton Family of Hospitals are proud to let you know that Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas has become the first hospital in the world to receive the LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) Platinum designation, given by the U.S. Green Building Council .
"Even before the first plans were drawn up, we set our sights on creating a world-class children's hospital, and becoming the first LEED Platinum hospital in the world was definitely part of that," said Robert Bonar, president and CEO, Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas . "Our motivation to pursue LEED Platinum was not just environmental. Being a green' hospital has a profound, measurable effect on healing. What's good for the environment and good for our Mueller neighbors is also good for our patients."
Dell Children's occupies nearly one-half million square feet on 32 acres that were once part of Austin's old Mueller Airport and opened in June 2007. Its environmentally-sensitive design not only conserves water and electricity, but positively impacts the hospital's clinical environment by improving air quality, making natural sunlight more readily available, and reducing a wide range of pollutants.
Inside the facility, sunlight reaches 80 percent of the available space. Outside, sustainable and indigenous building materials were used throughout the facade. A 4.3 megawatt natural gas-fired power plant produces 100 percent of the hospital's electricity, heating and cooling.
Dell Children's routinely plays host to visiting clinical, environmental and architectural experts from around the world, and features six interior healing gardens, each representing a distinct ecosystem within Dell Children's 46-county service area.
What This Means to Central Texans
Receiving care in a green hospital carries multiple positives for patients, families and visitors. According to Bonar, there are three important characteristics that make Dell Children's a healthier place for Central Texans.
- " In the first place, there is a direct
medical/biological advantage," says Bonar. "Children are
being hospitalized in a building that by its very design is
far less likely to cause various forms of 'sick building'
syndrome. We designed the building to be constructed using
materials that do not off-gas dangerous chemicals such as
formaldehyde or other toxic substances, literally making it
a healthier place to be.
- "Secondly, the fact that we use a lot of exterior light
in the building also has a positive physiologic impact on
patients and their families. There is now scientific
evidence that patients recuperating in hospitals that have
copious quantities of external daylight and pleasing views
from their rooms actually require shorter stays and fewer
analgesic drugs for pain relief."
- "Third, our hospital is a pleasing place to be for all
our associates, resulting in higher morale, motivation,
spirit, professional commitment and a better attitude on
the part of caregivers, especially those providing bedside
care. This translates into a better experience for patients
In order to achieve LEED certification, buildings are rated in five key areas: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. Listed below are some of the accomplishments in each LEED category:
- 47,000 tons of Mueller airport runway material was
reused on the site
- About 40% fly ash instead of Portland cement in the
concrete mix yields a drop in carbon dioxide emissions
equivalent to taking 450 cars off the road
- Courtyards provide light to interior spaces; courtyard
air intakes provide cooler air than rooftop intakes for air
- 92% of construction waste was recycled on site
Water Efficiency and Water Conservation
- Reclaimed water is used for irrigation, xeriscaped
landscaping uses native plants which require less water
- Low flow plumbing fixtures
- Energy Efficiency and Energy Conservation
Efficiency measures save enough power to fuel about 1,800 homes
- An on-site natural gas turbine supplies all
electricity, 75% more efficient than coal-fired plants:
links to the municipal grid and an emergency generator
- Converted steam energy from a heating/cooling plant
supplies all chilled water needs
- Under-floor air distribution in non-clinical,
non-patient areas requires less fan power than
- Parking lot trees and reflective surface pavement and
roof materials reduce the heat-island effect
Indoor Environmental Quality and Lighting
- Most interior spaces are within 32 feet of a window
- Motion and natural light sensors shut off unneeded
Conservation of Materials and Resources
- Use of local and regional materials saves fuel for
- Special paints and flooring emit low levels of volatile
organic compounds (VOCs).