Michele Van Hyfte

On a beautiful October afternoon in Austin, Texas, Seton Healthcare Family associates and guests celebrated another world’s first achievement for Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas. The W.H. and Elaine McCarty South Tower is the first project in the world to achieve LEED for Healthcare (LEED-HC) Platinum certification. Dell Children’s executives welcomed guests and recognized community partners and project team consultants for their contributions. Members of the USGBC national board of directors and the local Central Texas – Balcones Chapter were among the guests. Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chair of USGBC, presented the LEED Platinum plaque to the team. Something seemed very familiar…

On a beautiful spring afternoon five years ago, in the same location, a similar event celebrated the original building’s achievement: It was the first hospital in the world to achieve LEED Platinum certification. Many of the ceremony guests participated in both projects and attended both ceremonies, which made the celebration extra special.

The commitment to sustainability for Dell Children’s began nearly 10 years ago, during its master planning process. In addition to the original LEED certification, its IMRI Expansion project achieved a LEED for New Construction Gold certification in 2009. Now, in 2013, the South Tower addition continues that pattern of excellence by achieving the highest-available rating from the LEED-HC rating system. LEED-HC was the natural choice, because it combines the standard environmental requirements of LEED with the unique attributes and specifications of healthcare facilities.

Since it opened in May, the South Tower’s energy efficient lighting design has saved an estimated 134,000 kilowatt hours (KWh). The photovoltaic panels have saved 17,000 KWh, and their electrical production is 12 percent more than projections. Similarly, the solar thermal panels have saved 117 million British thermal units since July, and their production is 10 percent more than projections. These systems, along with a high-efficiency air handling unit and automated patient room thermal comfort and lighting controls, have reduced the overall building electrical consumption by 3.6 percent as compared to preconstruction data. Not only does the sustainable design of the South Tower conserve natural resources, but it also furthers Seton’s vision of creating a comprehensive system of delivering healthcare services that are person-centric and sustainable.

The future is bright for this double Platinum facility. Want to know more? Attend Session XW22, “What’s Next: The Future of Sustainable Healthcare Design,” on Thursday, Nov. 21, at Greenbuild, or visit dellchildrens.net.