Green building standards may be healthy for the environment, but must it be adapted so it’s healthy for hospital patients, medical staff and researchers? A growing number of treatment and research facilities are finding out, with some, including the Oregon Health & Science University Center for Health & Healing and the University of California at San Franciso’s Institute for Regenerative Medicine, achieving or seeking high levels of LEED certification.

Many opportunities to green medical facilities are similar to any large commercial building–solar panels, green roofs and use of fluorescent bulbs and photovoltaics can be done anywhere. But hospitals, research laboratories and dentist offices do pose certain special challenges, given their intense use of water for cooling, special ventilation needs, material concerns and 24/7 operation.

“While some things are the same, a lot is different about hospitals,” says Alan Scott, a principal at Portland, OR-based consultancy Green Building Services. “For example, unlike an office building–where water use predominantly is in the bathrooms–in hospitals it is used for cooling equipment. In fact, because of the nature of its occupancy, a lot of cooling systems are in use.”

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