PORTLAND VA MEDICAL CENTER, Portland, Oreg.
Shouldering the Burden
Similarly, the challenge of specifying more environmentally friendly products has fallen on the shoulders of designers. “It takes time to research products and to talk with manufacturers, which is a challenge given the fast pace of construction,”says Anne Garrity, LEED AP, associate, Shepley Buffnch, Boston.
To help navigate this much uncharted process, Shepley Bulfinch actively taps into its firm’s collective knowledge, product research and collaboration with colleagues in the design community.
For example, seven Boston based healthcare architectural firms, which are a part of the non-profit Partners HealthcCare, get together bi-monthly to develop a “well-patient” room design. “Together, we have explored concepts, details and products, with the goal of eliminating hospital-acquired infections.” relates Garrity.
The longer-term plan is to build mock-up patient rooms to test out hypothesis about health/sustainable materials.
Garrity notes the group is made up of competitors, but these firms have come together to help solve an important issue in healthcare, recognizing that their collective knowledge is greater than what any one firm could achieve individually.
That said, Gensler is working on its own initiative to stream a process for a one-stop shop location for material comparisons. “It is an integrated technology platform that will work with several of the various platforms out there, and will help designers remove layers of complexity to better navigate this process,” explains Alyssa Schoiz, regional, regional director of health and wellness, Gensler, Los Angeles.
Meanwhile, Jane M. Rohde, AIA, LEED AP BD-C, FIDA, ASID, ACHA, CHID, GGA-CIEB, JSR Assocs., Elliott City, Mtd. Says her firm typically seeks out multi-attribute certifications and Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) to help reduce time spent researching products.
She adds that the Green Building Initiative has been focusing on creating a process for completing a risk assessment based upon intended use and exposure, as opposed to a deselection “hazard only” approach. “This comprehensive approach is the direction of the future in regard to product selection,” she says.
GREEN CERTIFIED “With healthy products and materials contributing to the design of the Portland VA Medical Center, the facility scored 838.5 points (83.85%), the equivalent of three Green Globes for Continual Improvement of Existing Building certification.
As for manufacturers, Rhode encourages tapping into GreenSuite, which is a risk assessment tool and comprehensive way of evaluating the health and environmental impact of a particular product.
Sharing Kaiser’s product selection process, Gerwig relates that at the beginning of a new vendor relationship, potential suppliers are provided with a Letter of Understanding and an Environmental Scorecard. “They then submit all their products to a database that helps us to evaluate them alongside other options.”