Asante Special Care Nursery Earns Gold for Environmental Design and Construction
A healing environment built for the most vulnerable infants
The Special Care Nursery, which was phase two of the Asante Rogue Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit rebuild, was recently certified LEED for Commercial Interiors (LEED-CI) Gold. The 8,774 square foot medical facility is the only neonatal intensive care unit on the West Coast to earn any LEED certification, and just the third in the United States to achieve the rare distinction of LEED Gold certification.
“The Asante NICU is a prime example of what can be accomplished through a commitment to occupant well-being and reducing environmental impact in every way possible,” said Alicia Snyder-Carlson, a senior consultant with Green Building Services, which certified the project.
By being LEED Gold certified, Asante ensures its neonatal patients are receiving care in the most healthy environment possible.
“This is about our babies and our staff,” said Justin Hurley, director of real estate and sustainable planning. “Asante has made a commitment to providing the best possible environment for healing and working. It was staff, contractors, and the design team all coming together to make this happen.”
LEED stands for leadership in energy and environmental design. Any building or unit that is LEED certified has met the strictest standards for green-built design and construction as well as lighting and comfort standards. For example, the project resulted in a 30 percent reduction in water usage and 50 percent of all construction waste was recycled. In addition, the new unit offsets 100 percent of its energy use through the Pacific Power Blue Sky program, which generates energy from renewable resources.
Premature infants are especially sensitive to light and sound. To help, the nursery has lots of natural light and lighting control, and the floors are rubberized as an acoustical barrier to keep it quiet.
“This is a true healing environment,” said Stephanie Roderick, director or women's and children's services at Asante Rogue Regional. “We always strive to take into consideration not only our patients and families, but also the staff and the environment when we do construction projects.”
Research supports the connection between green space, health, and better healing, noted Snyder-Carlson. “A lot of hospitals are getting on board with this,” she said, adding that Asante went above and beyond the LEED requirements. “The NICU did some wonderful and progressive things on this project. Babies are especially vulnerable to off gassing, and they made a huge effort to avoid all vinyl and PVC materials in the project.”
Here are some of the ways the project earned LEED Gold:
- No PVC (poly vinyl chloride) was used in any building material products or finishes due to its adverse affect on human health, especially premature infants. Additionally, every effort was made to avoid vinyl.
- Extra effort was made to utilize low emitting materials that go beyond the LEED emissions requirements including paints, coatings, adhesives, sealants, and furniture in order to avoid unwanted toxic chemicals in the NICU due to off gassing.
- A building flushout was completed after all materials, equipment, and furniture were installed in order to remove any remaining toxic chemicals in the NICU. Additionally, the furniture was removed from its packaging and allowed to off-gas in an offsite location before entering the NICU.
- The hospital wing the NICU is located in uses 100 percent renewable power through Pacific Power's Blue Sky program and became a Visionary business partner by doing so.
- Low mercury fluorescent lamps are being specified for the life of the building to limit the use of mercury and potential associated issues from the release of mercury gas.
- The hospital implemented an ergonomic program to anticipate, identify, analyze, control, and monitor work place hazards, such as musculoskeletal disorders (MSD), and train affected employees and supervisors on methods to reduce exposure to ergonomic hazards, injury, and/or illness.
- High access to biking facilities and public transportation.
- The hospital has also implemented a green cleaning program to reduce the exposure of building occupants and maintenance personnel to potentially harmful chemicals. “It's not just how you build it, it's how you maintain it,” said Hurley.
Roderick noted that the reaction of staff and families is most telling. “They notice the difference and there is a great deal of appreciation for the feel of the department and the sustainability designed within it,” she said.
For example, one veteran employee said she was considering retirement, but with the new Special Care Nursery's ergonomically better flooring and improved workspace flow and lighting, she can continue working for many years.
Asante continues its pursuit for energy efficient and sustainable design projects. The Asante master plan calls for green-built design and construction for all future construction projects. The Creekside Laboratory also earned LEED Silver certification in 2012. It is the only free-standing laboratory in Oregon to earn LEED certification. The new Women's Center in Grants Pass and the outpatient center currently under construction at Asante Three Rivers will apply for LEED certification.
The project team for the Special Care Nursery included the following organizations: owner, Asante; architect, TVA Architects; general contractor, Adroit Construction Company; commissioning agent, Glumac Engineering; mechanical/plumbing/lighting/interface engineer and energy analyst, Interface Engineering; Sustainability consultant, Green Building Services, Inc.