A healthcare facility designed for patient well-being and environmental sustainability
Kaiser Westside Medical Center is a $334-million, 126-bed hospital in Hillsboro, Oregon. The LEED-certified building incorporates a range of sustainability features that make it a pioneering effort in the emerging field of green design for healthcare facilities.
The first new hospital in Washington County in almost 40 years, Kaiser Westside presented an exciting opportunity to forge a new design standard in sustainable healthcare facilities. Seizing this opportunity would not be easy. Because hospitals are open around the clock and necessarily consume large amounts of energy, fewer than 50 hospitals have succeeded in achieving a LEED for New Construction (LEED-NC) Gold certification. Architects Petersen Kolberg & Associates turned to us to support Kaiser Westside’s efforts to achieve LEED certification while also advancing the overriding priority of achieving excellent patient outcomes.
We managed all aspects of the LEED effort, working closely with the design team to conceive and implement sustainable design features that would support health and well-being for all users of the facility. The latest evidence indicates that pleasing physical environments make a big difference in the healing process, so the entire project team worked to promote beauty, comfort, function, efficiency and sustainability in every decision.
Each floor of the hospital incorporates a theme rooted in the Northwest's natural beauty: water, forest, wildflowers and mountains. Visitors and patients moving through the facility encounter art installations, sculptures and poems from more than 900 metro-area artists. An exterior plaza hosts a farmer’s market, drawing community life onto the hospital campus.
During the planning period, LEED for Healthcare (LEED-HC) guidelines were still in development, so the project team decided to pursue LEED-NC certification instead. Although LEED-HC standards were not yet finalized, the team resolved to adopt innovative green healthcare features wherever possible to increase the sustainability and reduce the environmental impact of the facility’s surgery, intensive care, emergency, labor and delivery, neurology, orthopedics, cardiology and allergy departments, as well as its on-site pharmacy and public health resources center.
Amenities surrounding the facility also offered many opportunities for sustainable design. The parking structure is energy-independent and includes four electric car charging stations, 12,000 square feet of photovoltaic panels, and a rainwater collection system that irrigates the campus’s landscaping, including the hundreds of new trees planted on-site as the hospital was built. Other green features include water retention tanks, wood composite insulation and renewable energy.
To reduce costs, the design team adopted templated floor plans, which enabled the re-use of successful interior designs employed at other Kaiser hospitals. Kaiser design conventions, largely developed for California facilities, were adapted to the Oregon environment. For instance, Kaiser Westside has an extensive underground waterproofing system as well as a brick-and-glass exterior, familiar to Oregonians but uncommon among the organization’s California facilities.
Green Building Strategies
- Electric car charging stations
- Preferred parking for low-emitting and fuel efficient vehicles
- Water use reduction through installation of low-flush toilets and low-flow fixtures
Energy and Atmosphere
- Reduction in lighting power through use of daylight responsive controls
Materials and Resources
- Post-consumer and pre-consumer recycled content in new building materials and products
Indoor Environmental Quality
- Low/no VOC paints, adhesives, sealants and furniture used throughout
- Increased air quality added outside air and increased filtration
- Green cleaning program
The completed medical center in Portland’s Westside suburbs is a model healthcare facility that allows Kaiser Permanente to better serve its growing community. With its LEED-NC Gold certification, the facility announces sustainability as an important part of a total health environment. Reducing energy use and associated greenhouse gas emissions aligns with the Kaiser’s long-standing Environmental Stewardship program, which promotes clean air and healthy communities. Energy-efficiency strategies also lower operating costs and create savings, freeing up resources that can be used to enhance patient care and experience. The hospital’s thoughtful design and efficient operations have laid a strong foundation for its planned expansion from 126 to 174 beds and from 280,000 to 728,000 square ft2 in the years ahead.
This project was undertaken by Green Building Services (GBS), a consultancy within RWDI. Based in Portland, Oregon, GBS helps clients access their buildings’ full potential by pushing the bounds of building science.