Until not too long ago, the phrase “green hospital” was a contradiction in terms, and for good reason: health-care facilities are large, complex, 24/7 institutions, burdened with heavy energy loads and severe code restrictions. However, this is (slowly) changing. The U.S. Green Building Council is currently developing a version of LEED for health care, and there are an encouraging number of projects in development that are explicitly green. But what does that mean exactly? For the past two years, the architecture firm Anshen+Allen has been exploring this territory with its Green Patient Lab (GPL), a full-scale mock-up of a hospital room that demonstrates innovative approaches to sustainable health care. “It’s a com-bination of best practices and conceptual thinking,” says Suzanne Drake, an interior designer at Anshen+Allen.
Created jointly with the International Facilities Management Association’s Health Care Council and more than 30 manufacturers, the GPL travels across North America to health-care and design trade shows. Each year, the concept evolves as new products and approaches are introduced. The 2009 GPL incorporates more technology and moves away from the 20-by-20-foot layout of previous versions. But the goal remains the same. “The challenge in creating a green space is about overcoming misconceptions,” Drake says. “There is always the impression that green costs more. We know from this project that the materials are available now, and they’re competitively priced. There was a little bit of a premium three years ago, maybe five years ago, for sure. Now the cost is negligible.”