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|Monday, October 18, 2010
|Contact: Debra Thompson
Director, RMH Corporate Communications
The new Rockingham Memorial Hospital, which opened in June, has become the first inpatient healthcare facility in Virginia to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) certification from the nonprofit U.S. Green Building Council.
The new 630,000 square-foot healthcare facility is only of only seven hospitals of its size in the country to achieve LEED Gold certification, according the U.S. Green Building Council’s website.
“LEED-Gold certification is a huge accomplishment for any facility, especially for a hospital in a rural area,” said Eric Sheffer of Smith Seckman Reid (SSR), the Nashville-based engineering and sustainable consulting firm that consulted on the new RMH facility. “RMH has implemented some creative alternative energy management and sustainability strategies that truly represent a team effort between RMH, the design team and local municipalities.”
For Dennis Coffman, director of Facilities Planning and Development at RMH, the announcement was the culmination of years of dedicated work to ensure the new hospital project would meet LEED guidelines.
“We are extremely pleased to be named the first ‘green’ hospital of this size in Virginia,” Coffman said. “We made this choice not for recognition, but because it’s the right thing to do for our community—now and for future generations. Being ‘green’ is cost-effective and it ensures we will continue to be good financial stewards of our community’s resources.”
The U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED green building certification program is a voluntary rating system that addresses all types of buildings. It emphasizes state-of-the-art strategies, including sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials and resources selection, indoor environmental quality and innovation in design.
Four levels of certification—Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum—are awarded according to the number of points accrued. RMH was awarded 40 points—one more than the number required to achieve Gold certification. According to the USGBC website, there are 68 LEED-certified healthcare facilities—32 Certified, 19 Silver, 15 Gold and 2 Platinum in the nation. RMH is one of seven LEED Gold-certified hospitals over 100,000 square feet, and, according to the data presently available from the USGBC, it is the only Gold hospital in Virginia.
“Given the stringent criteria for LEED certification, it is difficult for hospitals to achieve this distinction,” noted RMH Healthcare CEO and President Jim Krauss. “This is a tremendous honor and a reflection of our commitment to providing a sustainable future for our community.”
From the earliest stages of the project, RMH administrators and facility planning staff were committed to building an environmentally friendly, “green” hospital on the 254-acre site chosen for the new hospital and health campus.
“The site for the new RMH hospital and health campus inspired our vision: to create a campus in harmony with the surrounding area, with facilities designed to bring the best of 21st century health, wellness and medical care to our community,” Coffman said. “It simply made sense to do the right thing for the environment and the community in the way we approached our mission of healing.”
RMH’s green building efforts were featured in the May 2009 issue of Healthcare Design, a national trade publication that focuses on leading technology and design in the healthcare industry. The article, “Can Hospitals Go Green Without Spending Too Much Green?” highlighted RMH’s efforts to build a sustainable, LEED certified healthcare facility without incurring additional cost.
“We share Rockingham’s excitement about this significant achievement, because this is ESa’s first Gold LEED-certified replacement hospital that we’ve designed,” said ESa Director of Medical Design and principal Harold Petty. ESa, headquartered in Nashville, Tenn., served as architect for the project.
“The success of this project is a way to promote the value and benefits of green design to other hospitals,” Petty continued. “The certification stands as evidence that a close working relationship between the owner and the architectural and engineering design team will be rewarded by opening up new opportunities. This recognition now places Rockingham Memorial Hospital within a unique, small group of hospitals in the U.S. We are just honored to have been a part of this accomplishment.”
RMH’s commitment to green building also attracted the attention of the Shenandoah Valley Builders Association, which named RMH as the recipient of the SVBA 2009 Arbor Day Community Gift. In conjunction with Fine Earth Landscaping, SVBJ donated 33 trees, valued at $13,000. The trees were planted with the help of more than 80 Rockingham County third-graders, along with Harrisonburg Mayor Kai Degner. This gift launched RMH’s $1.7 million landscaping campaign, “Going & Growing Green,” to beautify the new campus and complete “green” projects.
Beyond LEED requirements, RMH additionally recycles sharps containers for medical waste. All LEED-certified buildings are required to recycle ongoing consumables; however, medical waste is not tracked in the LEED system, Sheffer noted. As a member and owner in the Virginia Health Care Waste Management Cooperative, RMH has diverted more than 149,600 pounds of plastics from Virginia landfills since 2004.
Rockingham Memorial Hospital is a 238-bed full-service community hospital located just outside Harrisonburg, Va. The hospital admits more than 15,500 inpatients and delivers close to 1,750 babies per year. About 70,000 people visit the RMH Emergency Department annually. RMH’s regional services include interventional cardiology, heart surgery, general surgery, women’s health and cancer care.
How is the New RMH green?
The U.S. Green Building Council LEED certification criteria include use of sustainable site, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor and environmental air quality and innovation in design. RMH received LEED certification points for the following:
Sustainable site—minimizing the building site’s impact on its environment, wildlife habitat, erosion and needs for transportation.
- Surrounded by nature—The new RMH is sited on 254 acres of farmland with surrounding views of the Shenandoah mountains and Massanutten peak. The new hospital was built to take advantage of the natural beauty of the site and of the sun’s rays. During the winter months, the sun will assist in melting snow and ice in the visitor parking areas and walkways, thus reducing the need for melting agents and snow removal.
- Natural light for patient, employee benefit—Patient rooms have large windows to bring in natural light and feature picturesque views of the rolling hills and mountains. In addition, corridors and stairwells have been designed with ample windows to encourage stairwell use and bring light into employees’ work areas. Research has found that viewing natural scenes or elements fosters recovery by:
- Evoking positive feelings
- Reducing negative emotions
- Effectively holding a person’s attention or interest
- Blocking or reducing stressful thoughts
In addition, research has shown that surgical patients with views of nature had shorter post-operative stays, returned fewer negative comments to nurses, took less pain medication and experienced fewer minor post-operative complications.
Employees who work in green buildings are generally healthier, more productive and more satisfied, leading to less staff turnover, an important healthcare quality indicator.
- Wetland management—RMH created storm water runoff ponds and enhanced the existing wetland area to slow excess water and sediment runoff, both pre- and post-construction, thus reducing negative impacts to downstream watersheds. Thoughtful planning for storm water run-off helps preserve the wetland on the RMH site (the headwaters of the Pleasant Run watershed that feed into the Chesapeake Bay).
- Landscape contouring, preserved/walking, biking trails—RMH has preserved the surrounding site as much as possible and created walking and biking trails to promote community fitness, recreation and alternative transportation routes for staff.
Water efficiency—conserving water through recycling water, reducing its use and returning it to the natural aquifers and other water sources.
- The new hospital uses reduced water flow toilets and low flow public restroom faucets, which will reduce the amount of water needed by 20 percent for these services.
- By planting native and drought-tolerant plants, RMH has minimized the amount of water needed to maintain the landscape.
Energy and atmosphere—minimizing energy use, optimizing energy that is used, creating renewable energy and managing overall energy use.
- Energy efficient lights in the new hospital help reduce the amount of electricity needed to “keep the lights on.” In addition, “down lighting” in parking lots, using shorter light poles, will help reduce light pollution generated by the campus.
- Innovative energy sources
- Methane—The new RMH facility uses advanced energy systems designed to maximize energy efficiency and reduce costs. Part of this initiative is the innovative use of methane gas, a byproduct of the county landfill, as one energy source for its boilers. RMH is among the first hospitals in the nation to use this innovation. RMH received nearly $600,000 in grant funding from the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy to fit its tri-fuel boilers to use methane.
- Off electric grid in summer—The new hospital has enough power generation capabilities to go off the electric grid during peak hours, earning savings around $400,000 annually and reducing the load on the local power cooperative.
Materials and resources—facilitate reduction of waste, divert construction debris from landfills, increase demand for regionally produced materials.
- Recycling (during construction, and after opening)—During construction, RMH and its general contractor put a recycling program in place that recycled or diverted 80 percent of construction waste away from the local landfill.
- Ongoing recycling programs within RMH will continue responsible waste management principles of “reduce, reuse and recycle.”
Indoor environmental quality—enhance indoor air quality, thus contributing to the comfort and well-being of the occupants.
- No volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in interior materials—RMH selected paints, flooring adhesives, furnishing and cleaning supplies that produce few if any toxic fumes. These products are better not only for the environment, but also for employees and patients. Green cleaning products—RMH made the switch to environmentally friendly cleaning products at its current facility, so that these products will already be in use and familiar to staff when the new hospital opens. RMH will be using products that have a stamp of approval from Green Seal, a third-party evaluation agency. They contain no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and no fragrance. In addition, the products are biodegradable, recyclable, noncombustible and are not tested on animals. Disinfectants—mostly used in restrooms—are not available as “green” products, due to their nature, but all other products used at RMH will be Green Seal approved.
- Tobacco free for interior air quality—A tobacco free campus will minimize guests’ and employees’ exposure to environmental tobacco smoke.
Innovation in design—provide exceptional performance above the requirements set by the LEED rating system for new construction.
- Use of methane fuel
- Green cleaning products
- Recyclable wares in the café
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