by Paul Rudo on 22/03/11 at 3:39 pm
St. Luke’s Magic Valley, a new state-of-the-art healthcare facility serving South Central Idaho will open its doors May 21, 2011. This 700,000 square foot, 186 bed, medical center offers all private patient rooms, designed to promote maximum patient comfort and quality patient care.
Given that energy efficiency is such a hot topic within IT, I thought it would be interesting to look at a project where an organization has thought of energy savings in every aspect of their operations… and not just in the server room.
Today, I’ll be interviewing Jeff Hull, who is the Director of Construction for St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center.
Why did you believe that it was important to put so much effort into making sure this design and construction was environmentally sustainable? This seems like a major expenditure.
In some cases it was actually less expensive, like recycling the excavated rock, in lieu of exporting it and then later importing fill. The state of the art air handling units were initially more expensive, but the return on the investment was very short.
From a sustainability point of view, what were some of the biggest challenges that you had to face in designing this facility? What are some of the most important features?
Balancing the cost vs. value added in a market where, for example, electricity costs are very low. Some options just didn’t pay off, which in other regions of the country would have been financially prudent. I don’t know that there is one most important feature, but there is design approach we used that is, I believe significant.
The use of multiple small units as opposed to one or two huge machines has many advantages. For example historically water heating boilers have been a few massive units, and to have the necessary redundancy we would add another for back up.
Not only are they relatively inefficient, in that when the demand for hot water in minimal say during the night you still had one large boiler running, when demand increase just a touch over one boilers capacity you had to start a second large machine up.
The design approach we took was to use numerous small instant heat boilers, when the demand is low only one boiler is running, as the demand increase more are started. For redundancy we don’t need 100% capacity, because not all of the boilers would be expected to fail all at the same time, so we could use a few more than are needed for maximum load for the redundancy.
The same approach was used for the air handing units, multiple small fans in an array as opposed to one large fan.
I’ve noticed that your facility has installed rooftop gardens. What motivated this decision?
These rooftop areas will be viewed by patients and families and we wanted to provide a healing environment in all areas of our new facility.
Not only do these rooftop gardens cover up and unsightly rooftop element, they increase our patient and family experience by having an outside green garden to look at and get some fresh air. The gardens also cut heating/cooling costs. We utilized evidence-based methods for design that promote healing. Keeping elements of nature in a facility like a hospital has been proven to promote faster healing.
Each aspect of our design was planned with specific goals in mind – this is more than just a brick and mortar building to us.
I’ve noticed that you’d implemented photo cells in order to balance out your internal lighting with external sunlight. Can you tell me more about this?
We have used day lighting extensively, so with automation we can maximize the use of daylight only turning on the lights when the natural light levels are too low for safe illumination of the interior spaces.
This automation should allow for reduced energy consumption without relying upon staff to manually manage lighting throughout the day. Unlike many corporate offices, a hospital must function 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and we still wanted to cut energy costs and follow standards. This was one of the ways we succeeded in doing that.
How did sustainability factor into your decision for external building materials?
The easy one is the brick.
St. Luke’s oldest building is what we call the west wing in Boise and it is brick from the 1920’s, all of our major facilities since are brick. The bricks come from regional quarries – the bricks for this facility came from the Salt Lake area. They are no-maintenance, and last virtually forever. The same can be said for the sandstone we have used at the base of the exterior walls and sandstone is native to Idaho.
Was IT considered as part of your overall sustainability design?
“Paperless Clinical Results Project.” This Lean project will reduce over $70,000 per year worth of paper from charts in the new facility. With the expanded size of the facility, we needed to look at how to modify our workflows to have our physicians and clinicians access all dictated and printed laboratory, radiology and other results from a computer instead of on the paper chart.
The staff will be using IPad’s to access the electronic medical record, and other electronic clinical tools wirelessly. This project will be facilitated by the Medical Grade wireless network we are installing in our new facility.
Cost-Reducing Green Equipment: The 700,000 square foot facility will be equipped with approximately 2,000 energy-efficient computers with a “green” data center. In-room patient televisions will be wired for traditional use, or computer usage. Bedside access to a laptop computer will also provide Skype opportunities for patients.