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Green Building Briefing: Green Hospitals, North America’s ‘Most Sustainable Building’ and Bird Collisions

In many hospitals heating accounts for more energy use than any other system, while imaging equipment and hot water use much less energy than was previously thought, according to an energy study at Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center, located in Vancouver, Wash.

The study’s authors – University of Washington’s Integrated Design Lab and Eugene, Ore.,-based SOLARC Architecture & Engineering Inc. – expect the findings to have a major effect on the way hospitals are designed and built.

Legacy Salmon Creek, which opened in August 2005, was chosen for the study because it already performs more efficiently than the typical U.S. hospital in terms of its use of electricity and natural gas, the hospital says.

The University of British Columbia has opened what it calls “the most sustainable building in North America.”

UBC calls the $37 million Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (pictured) a “living laboratory.” It is one of only a handful of buildings worldwide that will provide “net positive” benefits to the environment, the university says.

CICS reduces UBC’s carbon emissions, powers itself and a neighboring building with renewable and waste energy, creates drinking water from rain and treats wastewater on site.

Buildings can now earn a credit towards their U.S. Green Building Council LEED building certification for incorporating design strategies that reduce bird collisions.

Energy-efficient buildings often use large expanses of glass to harness as much light and heat from the sun as possible. Such glass walls are effectively invisible to birds and, as such, man’s feathered friends often fly straight into them, dying on impact. The USGBC has called the credit a “logical extension” of its LEED program.

Picture credit: Don Erhardt

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