Friday, May 20, 2011

A new level of green building

LUNDER BUILDING ATRIUM: More than a dozen hanging plants fill the main public space of the Lunder Building.

REMAINING COMMITTED to the planet and environmental conservation is among the priorities of the MGH as it enters its third century. This high level of attention to sustainable design and construction was a major goal years before construction began of the hospital’s newest facility, the Lunder Building, located at the heart of the MGH campus.

Slated to open later this summer, the Lunder Building will house an expanded Emergency Department with a covered ambulance bay, five inpatient floors for cancer and neurosciences care, state-of-the-art procedure and operating room suites, the central sterile processing and supplies department, the materials management department and radiation oncology services.

Currently, the Lunder Building is on target to attain gold certification in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) system, an internationally recognized certification system. LEED accreditation indicates that a building was designed and constructed using green features and strategies, such as water efficiency, energy conservation, sustainable resources and carbon dioxide emission reductions.

“When we began planning for the Lunder Building more than six years ago, we worked with our MGH staff and architects to incorporate a number of important environmentally friendly aspects to the building,” says Jean Elrick, MD, senior vice president for Administration and Lunder Building executive sponsor. “Along with patient safety and excellent quality care, we focused on sustainability and environmental conservation. Studies have shown that a natural environment can help to promote healing for sick patients. The practice of green building is a science, and we have been working with some of the best in the architectural field to be among the leaders in this area.”

The following highlights the efforts of the MGH to create a sustainable, green building:

Natural Light and Greenery

The most prominently visible green feature in the Lunder Building is the amount of natural light flooding the patient rooms and common areas and the abundance of plants and greenery. Floor-to-ceiling glass walls overlooking the garden atrium and large windows in each patient room allow daylight to enter throughout the building. Large hanging plants and gardens on the roof and sixth floor provide green views for those in the Lunder Building and the adjacent Yawkey Center for Outpatient Care.

Use of Renewable Materials and Recycling

More than a third of all the materials used for construction were recycled or locally extracted or manufactured materials. During the construction process, more than 85 percent of construction waste was recycled. Quickly renewable materials, such as bamboo, have been used for wall finishes, further reducing environmental impacts.

Water Conservation

To reduce water consumption, low-flow plumbing fixtures were installed in the building to reduce water consumption by more than 20 percent or 1.4 million gallons per year. To eliminate the use of potable water for plant irrigation, systems have been installed to capture rainwater and air cooling condensate for irrigation of the building’s gardens and plants.

Energy Conservation

A special glazing system was used on the outer walls to minimize heat gain and loss while allowing daylight to enter. This system improves thermal performance by 39 percent and reduces solar heat gain by 31 percent over baseline standards. State-of-the-art equipment and digitally controlled management systems ensure comfortable temperatures and appropriate lighting levels, while heating, cooling and lighting are coordinated to achieve further energy conservation and savings above established standards. The building design achieves an overall reduction of energy demand by 10 percent.

Healthy Indoor Air

Lunder Building finishes and furnishings do not contain volatile organic compounds. An enhanced ventilation system helps ensure a constant supply of clean, healthy air and an odor- and toxin-free environment.

Enhancing the Urban Environment

The Lunder Building is one of several buildings on the MGH campus that provide an indoor route for pedestrians to walk from Cambridge Street at the Charles/MGH MBTA station through the campus complex to the West End. The greenery that is an important visual component of the building covers more than half of the building footprint area, improving the view from adjacent buildings and helping to enhance the local air quality. The reflective roof materials reduce residual heat gains, and light fixtures have been carefully selected to reduce nighttime light pollution. Finally, delivery trucks and ambulances enter through the Lunder Building core to keep noise and activity off neighborhood streets.

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