The Built Environment
At Rochester Regional Health, we design our buildings with healing in mind while reducing our environmental footprint.
Rochester Regional operates out of over 7 million square feet of building space across 250 locations in the Rochester area. With such a sizeable footprint, sustainable choices in the way we design and maintain our buildings spaces have a significant impact on our community. We take that duty very seriously, and are finding innovative ways to ensure the built environment aids in improving the health of our patients, staff, and community now and into the future.
As we continue to grow, we are constantly seeking new ways for our facilities to improve the care we provide while minimizing the resources we consume. Because healthcare buildings are designed to be ready for any patient need anytime, sustainable solutions are very complex and many organizations shy away from the challenge. At Rochester Regional, we address these challenges head on, seeking sustainable solutions that minimize our environmental impact, reduce our operational costs, and improve the care that we provide for generations to come.
Rochester Regional Health has 1 Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified building, and is seeking certification for 4 new buildings.
Building Life Cycle Assessments
A Building Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is an analysis that looks at the long term environmental and financial impacts associated with a structure across its lifetime. An LCA reveals hidden long term environmental and financials costs of different design solutions and provides our teams a complete picture to make informed decisions. For example, some pieces of equipment have high upfront capital costs, but low operating fees compared to others that are very cheap, but have high environmental and financial costs over time. Rochester Regional is performing a building LCA of the forthcoming Sands-Constellation Center for Critical Care (312,000 SF) to be built at Rochester General Hospital, and is seeking to do the same for all new construction, infrastructure, and major equipment purchases.
Cool Roofs are roofs with high solar reflectance and thermal emittance that absorb less heat and more efficiently release heat absorbed by the roof. This helps reduce the heat island effect surrounding the building. Cool roofs are typically a lighter-colored roof than the conventional black membrane, such as white or green. White Roofs cost the same amount as black roofs, but significantly reduce cooling cost and air pollution intensification associated with heat islands. Green roofs come with additional benefits, but also additional cost. While several of our buildings have white roofs, moving forward, white roofs are planned for all new buildings and roofing projects at Rochester Regional.
Energy Efficient Equipment Upgrades
Rochester Regional is committed to increasing energy efficiency through equipment upgrades in our buildings. We are retrofitting internal and external lighting with LED lighting, a technology that consumes a third of the energy of traditional lighting and lasts three times as long saving money on both energy and maintenance. Projects are underway or complete at our five acute care hospitals, long-term care facilities, ElderONE, several destination campuses, medical office buildings, outpatient surgery centers, senior housing, and many other locations.
Other energy efficiency upgrades are focused on reducing the electrical and heating loads of our HVAC systems and other equipment. We are upgrading several pieces of energy intensive equipment that are often not considered, including vending machines, and refrigeration units. We use occupancy sensors on our vending machines which reduce their energy consumption by about 50%. In our refrigeration units, we use temperature control devices that more accurately measure the temperature of food, causing the cooling equipment to cycle less and consume 15-30% less energy. These two simple upgrades have around a one year payback, reduce our systems energy use by 1-2% alone, and significantly reduce the maintenance required for that equipment.
Rochester Regional is developing a set of green building standards for new construction and retrofitting of existing buildings. These standards will be based on LEED for Healthcare, GreenGuide for Health, and other industry practices. Completed in 2010, Unity at Ridgeway was retrofitted to be LEED Silver certified—the first healthcare building to become LEED certified in the Rochester Area. Some of the building’s features include a geothermal heat pump, a cool roof, and a 30% reduction in potable water usage. The forthcoming Sands-Constellation Center for Critical Care to be built at Rochester General Hospital is targeting LEED Silver Certification, and will break ground in mid-2017. Other construction projects, including the Riedman Health Center, outpatient facilities for occupational and physical therapy, and several other projects in Henrietta and Irondequoit, are all projected to receive at least LEED Silver.
Reuse of Existing Buildings
All new construction projects evaluate the potential of reusing an existing building that meets the space and functional requirements of the project. Many of our construction projects involve reusing an existing structure, such as the Riedman Health Center, which comes with a number of environmental, economic, and social benefits. Environmental benefits result from decreased emissions resulting from a reduction in the amount of materials needed for a project, as well as the energy required to assemble them. Furthermore, demolition waste is greatly reduced in situations where an existing building would have been removed to allow for a new one. Although labor costs usually see a slight increase when buildings are reused, this is more than off-set by decreased material costs needed for the project. Additionally, renovating an existing building keeps more money within the local economy because of the reduced need for costly materials to be shipped in from distant locations.
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