Green Building Green building practices do more than reduce greenhouse gas emissions, energy costs and waste.
In Australia, healthcare professionals in hospitals, clinics, diagnostic centres, aged care and mental health facilities are discovering that green buildings can help improve patient outcomes and boost staff morale.
According to Romilly Madew, Chief Executive of the Green Building Council, green buildings can have a significant impact on the health and comfort of their residents.
"According to the OECDs Environmentally Sustainable Buildings report, illness from indoor air pollution has become one of our most acute building challenges with building materials, ranging from paints to carpets, leading to occupational health issues."
"Nowhere is this more critical than in health care institutions. Patients benefit from the natural light and cleaner, fresher air that are the foundation stones of green buildings, and healthcare professionals are seeing accelerated recovery rates as a result. Green building can also help hospitals stay within budget. Not only do green building practices help hospitals and health clinics to lower energy costs and reduce waste, but they can dramatically improve the working environment for staff, which in turn improves work performance and reduces staff turnover."
The Green Building Council of Australia launched the Green Star environmental rating system for buildings in 2003. Green Star, which is recognised as Australias national environmental rating system, evaluates the green initiatives of building projects based on a number of criteria, including energy and water efficiency, indoor environment quality and resource conservation.
The recently released Green Star - Healthcare PILOT rating tool evaluates the environmental potential and integrated fitout of health and aged care facilities. It also assesses major refurbishments of existing facilities.
Projects are awarded a Green Star rating based on accumulating credit points in eight categories. Specific sector credits are also included in the Healthcare tool, including:
Placement and maintenance of air distribution systems
Patient and staff access to clean and healthy outdoor areas away from outside air inlets and smoking zones
Energy efficiency of medical equipment
Efficiency of portable water systems used for cooling laboratory equipment
Disposal and reduction of toxic trade wastes
Reduction of airborne emissions, especially from laboratory exhaust systems
"The Healthcare rating tool seeks to reduce toxins and provide a healthier, healing environment," Ms Madew says. "This tool can help hospitals and healthcare facilities to reduce the environmental impact of their buildings, improve patient health outcomes and staff productivity, as well as achieve real cost savings."
Governments around Australia are already recognising the importance of greening their healthcare facilities. The Victorian Government, for instance, has allocated $3.9 million to upgrade hospitals and aged care facilities to save energy and water under its Greening Victorias Hospitals program, and the Western Australian Government is currently developing a policy which will require all government buildings, such as schools, police stations and hospitals, to achieve a sustainability benchmark of 4 or 5 Green Stars.
About the Green Building Council of Australia
Launched in 2002, the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) is a national, not-for-profit organisation that is uniquely supported by both industry and government across the country. The Green Building Council's mission is to develop a sustainable property industry for Australia and drive the adoption of green building practices through market-based solutions.