A new pilot credit for LEED certification focused entirely on occupant health and physical activity

March 14, 2016 Laura McDaniel

Employee health has always been important, but now has become a way to attract and retain top talent - through amenities like onsite gyms, healthy food offerings and wellness memberships. Building Design + Construction dives into the new pilot credit for LEED all about wellness, here: 

The phrase “environmentally conscious design” typically conjures images of recycled materials and energy efficient systems for lighting and temperature control. Methodist Olive Branch Hospital, which my colleague David Zegley has already discussed in a previous post, is one great example. Today, we’ll focus on another – the 25,000-square-foot (and LEED Gold projected) medical office building GS&P recently designed for Kaiser Permanente in Anne Arundel County, Maryland.

Can "active" building designs make people healthier?

 

Designed to house everything from primary care, obstetrics and pediatrics to optometry, a pharmacy, imaging and laboratory services, this MOB embodies the connection between between healthy building techniques and a healthier world. With careful planning and client guidance, we drastically improved the facility’s environmental impact by reducing its total water/energy consumption, carbon footprint, and demand for construction materials.

Energy model calculations project the building to perform 34.6% better than AHSRAE 90.1 standards, the benchmark for energy consumption building codes across the U.S. Water consumption will be more than 30% lower than federal government standards, and regionally sourced materials with high-recycled content and low VOC emissions will promote a healthy and inviting interior environment.

But this high-performance building also incorporates another important aspect of environmentally conscious design that often gets overlooked: using the built environment to improve the overall health of its occupants.

A GROWING HEALTH ISSUE

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly half of Americans do not get enough daily exercise to meet the government’s minimum guidelines for aerobic physical activity. In Maryland, the adult obesity rate has nearly tripled to 29.6% since 1990 while heart disease accounts for nearly a quarter of all deaths and is the leading cause of mortality at both local and national levels. Stroke and diabetes also rank among the top causes of death nationally and in Maryland.

Because adequate physical activity can reduce the risk of all four of these health issues the U.S. Green Building Council has introduced a pilot credit for LEED certification focused entirely on occupant health and physical activity (EQpc78 – Designing for Active Occupants). This concept played a central role in the interior space planning exercises we conducted during the schematic design phase of the new MOB in Anne Arundel County. As we examined the possibilities, we found that very simple changes in the spatial hierarchy and natural progression of the public spaces would provide occupants with an equal opportunity for healthy choices.

Read the entire article here

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