The Greening of Healthcare: Fabrics Used in Healthcare Facilities
The greening of healthcare textiles is a topic of great importance for the overall greening of healthcare spaces due to the large number of chemicals used in the production of fabrics. Both patients and healthcare workers are exposed to these chemicals through dermal contact, inhalation, and ingestion. Hospital “green” teams and purchasing agents need to be aware of how to best select textiles for their facilities. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a comprehensive internationally recognized standard for certification and construction of green buildings (Canada Green Building Council, 2004a). The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) started this program in 1993, and there are currently non-profit green building councils in 77 countries around the world (World Green Building Council, 2010). LEED standards are set for energy savings, water efficiency, carbon dioxide emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, stewardship of resources, and sustainable locations. Innovation and education are also rewarded in the certification process. Verifiable third-party standards are set for practical and measurable design, construction, operation, and maintenance of buildings. The USGBC is currently developing a program specifically for healthcare (US Green Building Council, 2010).