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24 July 2014

Insights from HOK’s Mara Baum on LEED for Healthcare

Rhine Ordnance

Designed by HOK in collaboration with HWP Planungsgesellschaft, the 1 million-sq.-ft. Rhine Ordnance Barracks Medical Center Replacement in Kaiserslautern, Germany, is targeting LEED-HC Silver.

Healthcare Sustainable Design Leader Mara Baum, who is based in San Francisco, shares her expertise in a special healthcare building types section published by ENR.

Launched in 2011, LEED-HC is perceived as the most rigorous of the US Green Building Council’s rating systems. With 251 projects in the pipeline and eight already certified, owners and designers are seriously exploring the challenges of achieving LEED-HC credits.

Mara-BaumOn why owners should pursue LEED-HC rather than LEED-NC:

“Owners should use LEED-HC because it can lead to higher performing buildings. This is especially true for inpatient facilities, but is also appropriate for some outpatient projects. The more clinically intensive a building, the more likely LEED-HC is to be a good fit. Some credits are system-specific and are only eligible for projects with things like cafeterias, sterilizers and cooling towers. If the outpatient project would benefit from these credits, then LEED-HC is the way to go; if not, then I’d recommend LEED-NC. Regardless, healthcare teams using LEED-NC or LEED-CI (Commercial Interiors) should always mine LEED-HC for credits that can be used as Innovation in Design points, thus getting some of the benefit of that rating system.”

On the unique challenges of LEED-HC:

“One lesson we’ve learned is that most people are either too blasé about their ability to achieve the credits (they don’t realize how different it really is from NC) or they are too freaked out (they think it’s harder than it really is). Education and awareness are important.”

On issues that require special attention:

“Prerequisites are serious stuff. A number of project teams have gotten tripped up by the new prerequisites for Environmental Site Assessment and Integrated Project Planning & Design because they should be addressed early in the project.”