Values-Driven Design and Construction: Enriching Community Benefits through Green Hospitals

Jan 01, 2006

For the past decade, the healthcare industry has been engaged in a transformation of design, construction,
and operational practices with a goal of reducing environmental impacts. Quietly and without much fanfare, early industry leaders have begun a radical journey toward a new vision of the industry’s health mission. Ten years after the founding of Health Care Without Harm and with early adopters having completed their first sustainable buildings, this is a pivotal moment to assess the state of sustainable design and construction in the healthcare industry from a leadership perspective. Why have organizations taken this on? What challenges have they faced? How have they framed the benefits to their communities? What have been the anticipated, and unanticipated, outcomes? Healthcare leaders and their organizations engaged in sustainable design and construction are doing so largely because it aligns with their humanitarian and stewardship mission and vision. They’ve been able to harness their community and/or personal attitudes about the environment toward this end and, very often, their concerns about the environment’s effect on their patients’ health. They are not primarily motivated by pristine wilderness and resource conservation for its own sake, but for the sake of their mission to serve and steward resources and health. For them, it’s more than saving energy. It’s fundamentally connected to health or to a basic human value.

The authors have identified healthcare leaders and allowed those leaders to tell this story in their words. They located a key group of early adopters who are reaching beyond measures that have economic payback and who are achieving community benefit beyond their four walls. And for a disparate set of reasons, these early adopters been able to overcome certain obstacles that could be framed as having to take on and/or embrace an environmentalist agenda and change the status quo. Those who have made it through the process are emerging transformed both personally and on an organizational level.

Robin Guenther, FAIA,
Gail Vittori
Cynthia Atwood
The Center for Health Design
Published & professionally reviewed by: 
The Center for Health Design

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