2 'Green' Energy Building Techniques for Healthcare Facilities

By James Ellis and Aaron Razavi
03:33 PM

Health facilities consume about two and one-half times the power of a standard commercial facility. They are massive consumers of energy and utilities due to a multitude of contributing factors including:  lengthy hours of operations, constant volume environmentally filtered air management, complex waste control systems, and extraordinary primary and secondary power equipment. Healthcare facilities are easily identifiable as a case study for green technology programs and the applications can be overwhelming.

There are a multitude of green initiatives hospitals and healthcare facilities can implement that yield immediate results. Green healthcare facilities have proven to require less short and long-term maintenance, reduce operating expenses, and bolster hospitals environmental friendless. Entire facilities have been engineered around varying degrees of green concepts while others are progressively integrating targeted changes solely directed at reducing their carbon footprint. The bi-product being sustainably controllable operating costs. One of the more visible applications is roofing systems.

Roof systems are a significantly strategic way to for a facility to reduce its energy costs. According to Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a facility of the Department of Energy, one third of energy used by a building is through heating and cooling. Half of the energy required to maintain a constant temperate environment is lost through the roof. Two innovative strategies to minimize this loss are cool metal roofing and solar paneling.

Cool metal roofing is a metal roofing system typically constituted from recycled materials that reflects solar radiation. Some experts conclude a 40% reduction in conductive absorption. A reflective roof significantly lowers internal ambient temperature, reduces energy consumption, and diminishes the heat island effect. Sunlight reflected as opposed to absorbed promotes thermal emittance, the process of slow atmospheric absorption. Depending on the geographic region cool metal roofing can be manipulated to have high or low thermal emittance and solar reflectance balancing for seasonal heating requirements.

Instead of mitigating solar radiation, an alternative is to utilize it through solar panel roofing. Though installation can be costly, reimbursements, lower maintenance, better environmental practices and increased savings all contribute to making the decision worthwhile. Jerry L. Pettis Memorial VA Medical Center in California constructed and implemented 1,600 solar panels on the facility’s roof, each generating 195 watts of electricity during daylight hours. A considerable reimbursement from Southern California Edison Company enabled VA Medical Center to execute this endeavor and through use of solar panels they are expected to save $60,000 annually. Even though it is estimated to take 21 years for the system to pay for itself, the panels are deemed to work for a decade past that.

Hospitals and health facilities incorporating sustainable and energy efficient practices are growing dramatically. Cool metal roofing and solar panel roofing are just two of hundreds of ways buildings must curb their energy usage. Without argument, a short-term premium does exist for these types of facility upgrades, however the strategy is sound.  Some of the up front load can be minimized through manufacturers’ inducements and municipal incentives that include abatements or tax credits. Strategically, the savings are real. The truer question is not "if" we should implement a green directive, but when and how aggressive are we willing to be.

James Ellis, CEO, Health Care Realty Development Company, is a nationally recognized successful real estate investor and developer of medical office properties with a comprehensive knowledge of sophisticated real estate transactions, cost effective designs, and efficient property management.

Aaron Razavi is Associate Marketing Director at Health Care Realty Development.



Visit their blog at http://www.hcrealty.com/medicalrealestatedevelopment/