Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas recently became the first hospital in the world to receive the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum Certification.
The $200 million, 32-acre facility is built on land that was once part of Austin's old Mueller Airport. The ground was saturated with solvents and fuel, but has been restored to its original unpolluted state to help provide a healthier environment.
"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," said Robert Bonar, president and CEO, Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas.
Inside the facility, sunlight reaches 80 percent of the available space. Other improvements include:
Sustainable Site - 47,000 tons of Mueller airport runway material was reused on the site. Additionally, about 40 percent fly ash (a byproduct of coal-fired power plants) was used instead of Portland cement in the concrete mix. This is equivalent to a drop in carbon emissions equivalent to taking 450 cars off the road.
- Water Conservation - Low-flow faucets and dual flush toilets inside the building and indigenous, drought-resistant plants outside help reduce the facility's water usage. These efforts will save 2.5 million gallons annually.
- Recycling - Fly ash, a byproduct of coal-fired power plants was recycled to build the facility, replacing Portland cement, an energy-intensive compound of concrete. During construction, 92 percent (over 32,000 tons) of waste was recycled. The hospital also features recycling bins throughout.
- Eco-Friendly Materials - The sandstone and limestone used in the building's exterior were manufactured close to central Texas, limiting travel distance and emissions from shipping. The building also uses "rapidly renewable" materials in its flooring, such as linoleum and cork. Also, low volatile organic compound (VOC) paint and flooring were used.
These and many other considerations in the hospital's construction positively impact the clinical environment by improving air quality, making natural sunlight more readily available and reducing a wide range of pollutants.