LEED for Healthcare Prescribes Strong Air-Quality Medicine, Other Design and Specification Challenges “Durability and Design News”

December 29, 2010 at 6:38 pm Leave a comment

The U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED for Healthcare green-building system, which recently won the approval of USGBC’s membership after several years of debate and discussion, prescribes a strong indoor air-quality regimen in health-care design in addition to other trademark LEED sustainable-design measures.

Health-care facilities designed to achieve certification face a number of challenges, including tougher criteria for earning credits for the use of low-emitting interior paint and coatings. To earn the credit, interior paints and coatings must comply with the nation’s toughest regulation on volatile organic compounds (VOCs)—the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s Rule 1113 on architectural coatings.

The LEED for Healthcare rating system recently passed USGBC member ballot, with an 87% approval rate, the organization announced. The rating system “represents a culmination of seven years of close collaboration between the Green Guide for Healthcare and USGBC,” the council said. “GGHC has helped to streamline the LEED for Healthcare’s development schedule by aligning with the LEED for New Construction rating system’s organizational structure, with permission from USGBC, and conducting a robust pilot program that has included more than 100 health care facilities,” USGBC said.

GGHC, a program developed by the Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems and Health Care Without Harm, served as the primary blueprint for LEED for Healthcare. GGHC, issued in 2004, places emphasis on reduced use of toxic chemicals in design and construction.

Air Quality a Top Priority

LEED for Healthcare generally mirrors other LEED rating systems in its list of credits for a wide range of green and sustainable design and construction measures.

The new rating system, for example, offers credits for the use of cool-roof technologies under the “Sustainable Sites” category, “Heat Island Effect—Roof.”

In the Indoor Environmental Quality section, the use of low-emitting paints and coatings can deliver one credit point, as is the case with other LEED systems. Credits, however, are based on the specification of interior paints and coatings that meet the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s Rule 1113 on architectural coatings. Rule 1113 is the nation’s most stringent regulation on VOCs in architectural and industrial maintenance coatings.

The credit’s basis on SCAQMD Rule 1113 marks a departure from most other LEED rating systems. LEED for New Construction and Major Renovations, for example, provides credit for use of low-emitting interior paints and coatings that meet Green Seal’s GS-11 or GS-03 standards, although some coatings types also must meet SCAQMD Rule 1113—clear wood finishes, floor coatings, stains, primers, sealers, and shellacs. The same criteria are part of the LEED for Commercial Interiors and LEED for Retail.

The recently launched LEED for Schools rating system, meanwhile, presents an even tougher yardstick for credits—compliance with the California Department of Health Services standard on testing of VOCs using environmental chambers.

Indoor Environmental Quality Credit 4: Low Emitting Materials, also offers credit points for use of adhesives and sealants that comply with the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s Rule 1168; aerosol adhesives must meet the Green Seal standard for Commercial Adhesives G-36 requirements.

But a new prerequisite has been added to the Indoor Environmental Quality Section—“Hazardous Material Removal or Encapsulation,” applicable to renovations only. This requires development and implementation of a hazardous-material management program of remediation and containment measures for mold, mercury and lead. 

The rating system also includes credits for reduction of the use of lead, cadmium and copper as “persistent bioaccumulative and toxic” (PBT) chemicals (Materials and Resources Credit 4.2). The credit calls for specification of no interior or exterior paints containing lead or cadmium. Paints and coatings meeting Green Seal standards or other regulatory criteria, however, exclude content that incorporates cadmium, lead, mercury, antimony, and hexavalent chromium.

Overall, designs that earn 40-49 credit points are “Certified.” Other levels are “Silver,” 50-59 points; “Gold,” 60-79 points; and “Platinum,”

Approval Follows Extensive Debate, Deliberation

The final version of the LEED for Healthcare rating system won approval despite a move to reduce the impact of the system with regard to use of certain toxics, according to a report in Healthy Building News, an online newsletter published by Healthy Building Network.

USGBC membership approval of the rating system “brings to a close six years of developmental work, including contentious debates over credits for reduced use of toxic chemicals and the hardball tactics of industry trade associations,” Bill Walsh, executive director of Healthy Building Network, wrote in Healthy Building News. Walsh said environmental and health-care activists endorsed the final draft “after the USGBC made changes to the LEED Pilot Credit program in order to provide more opportunities to access five credits that were removed from earlier LEED for Healthcare drafts and placed in the LEED Pilot Credit Library.”

The credits dropped from the final draft would reduce the use of materials containing persistent, bioaccumulative toxins, phthalate plasticizers and halogenated flame retardants, Walsh said. These were placed in the new LEED Pilot Credit Library.

Tailored to Reflect Health-Care’s Unique Needs

Melissa Gallagher-Rogers, USGBC director, government sector, said LEED for Healthcare is tailored to reflect the unique design and operational requirements of health-care facilities, with a heightened focus on reduction of toxics and the needs of patients. These priorities are reflected in prerequisites and credits related to indoor environmental quality, infection control, and proximity to public transportation, among others.

System Viewed as Foundation for Future Evolution

At the same time, credits are weighted to take into account the extensive water- and energy-use demands of health-care facilities, in comparison to conventional commercial or institutional buildings, she said.

Gallagher-Rogers said the LEED Credit Pilot Library will encourage further development of the healthcare rating system, as designers and materials manufacturers incorporate innovative technologies in pilot designs and provide feedback on these developments. She said the USGBC encourages manufacturers, including manufacturers of paint, coatings and related materials, to take an active role in the pilot-credit development process.

In Healthy Building News, Walsh noted that the executive director of Health Care without Harm, Gary Cohen, had called for rejection of previous drafts of LEED for Healthcare, but in the end endorsed passage of the final draft. Cohen was quoted as saying that moving the toxics-materials credits to the Pilot Credit Program represents a “fragile compromise because we don’t know if these credits will become embedded into LEED, and they were one of the defining ‘health-based’ elements of health care’s approach to green building.

“But what did emerge provides us with a foundation for innovation that is going to go way beyond LEED, as networks like Practice Greenhealth guide the health care sector towards toxic-free, carbon-neutral, resilient buildings that are a community force for healing beyond the four walls,” Cohen said in moving into the “yes” column favoring approval of LEED for Healthcare.

Healthy Building Network’s Tom Lent, who has participated in both GGHC and USGBC committees, said in Healthy Building News that he is “cautiously optimistic” that LEED HC will have an enduring legacy.

“On the whole, the LEED HC revision process resulted in a significant number of positive health-based improvements to the LEED rating system. For example, LEED HC strengthens mercury restrictions and furniture toxics requirements, and extends indoor air quality protection assessments to all interior surfaces—an approach now being picked up by the draft LEED 2012.”

Lent said that although the toxic credits are in the Pilot Library, “and therefore remain subject to revision and member ballot, similar requirements have already been successfully piloted by over a hundred hospitals using the GGHC. I am optimistic that these credits—available to all project types—will make the transition to the whole LEED system.”

Provided By: D+D

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Entry filed under: Green News & Products.

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