HCD Conference 2023: Sustainability Measures Gaining Momentum In Healthcare

To assess the current state of sustainability and decarbonization in healthcare design, Jennifer Kovacs Silvis, brand director at Sanitary design magazine, invited a panel of healthcare leaders to the stage during a Keynote owners panel at the Healthcare Design Conference + Exhibition 2023held in New Orleans in early November.

The group included Ramé Hemstreet, vice president of operations, national facilities services, director of energy for Permanent Kaiser; Mary Dickinson, Regional Director of Regenerative Design, Director of Perkins+will; and Jonathan Hunley, director of facilities infrastructure systems at Bon Secours Mercy Health.

Together, they had a frank and informative discussion about the short- and long-term goals in place in their organizations, the challenges the industry faces in green operations, and the role that design and designers can play in the process.

Sustainability in healthcare design

Starting with the big picture, Dickinson said he is having more conversations with customers about system-wide sustainability standards and approaches. “Now we’re starting to talk at scale,” he said, attributing the push to demand for information on companies’ environmental, social and governance (ESG) activities, as well as growing awareness of sustainability rating systems and carbon challenges.

At Bon Secours Mercy Health, Hunley said Mercy Health is focusing on developing standards and understanding the organization’s carbon footprint. “You can’t set goals if you don’t know what you need to do to achieve them,” she said.

Kaiser Permanente, which has been a leader in sustainable design in healthcare for more than a decade, aims to address embodied carbon (the amount of greenhouse gas emissions associated with earlier stages of a product’s life, such as extraction, production and transportation). ) as well as the construction of zero-emission facilities.

Electrification in healthcare

More healthcare organizations are looking to green their operations through energy efficiency measures, such as electrification, solar panel networks, and energy-efficient building systems. However, the panel recognized the challenges the industry faces in achieving these broader goals, including the availability of resources and the ability to hire experts on staff to administer these programs.

“All of this costs money that hospitals don’t have,” Hunley says.

Hemstreet added that the Biden Administration’s Inflation Reduction Act is helping to spur innovation for climate solutions, in addition to offering tax credits, which can help support smaller and nonprofit systems consider sustainable options for its facilities and projects.

Small steps towards a greener future

Looking to the future, panelists said prefabrication, standardized building envelope and MEP systems, and geothermal systems, which replace fossil fuel-based equipment, are “steps in the right direction.”

Hunley added that Bon Secours Mercy Health has performed a commissioning of the central utility plant, a process that seeks to improve the way building equipment and systems work together, as well as energy modeling to identify places to make changes. easy to improve energy efficiency.

Dickinson said he advises his clients to start with one area and build from there rather than trying to make many large-scale changes all at once. For example, he said new concrete mixes with less embodied carbon are coming to market.

“See if a team is willing to take it on, but present it early in the project,” he said.

For more session reviews from the 2023 HCD Conference + Expo in New Orleans, visit hcdmagazine.com/news/awards-events.

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