From: Richard Wronski, Chicago Tribune
Published September 28, 2005 12:00 AM

Illinois Hospital Goes 'Green'

Advocate Lutheran General Hospital is thinking green with plans for an eight-story, 192-room addition, but it's not about the project's $239 million price tag.


Rather, the building in Park Ridge is being designed with environmentally friendly features that include large expanses of glass for natural light, water-retentive plantings on the roof and a "rainwater garden" to recycle water.


Inside, special care would be taken to provide a healthier atmosphere for employees and patients by reducing or eliminating the use of toxic paints, adhesives, carpeting and other hazardous materials.


Lutheran General seeks to become the first hospital in Illinois and among a few in the nation to be recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council, a Washington-based coalition of builders, architects, government agencies and non-profit groups.


"The hospital has a responsibility to ensure the overall health care of the community, and constructing a building in a way that is respectful of the environment is part of that mission," said Bruce Campbell, Lutheran General's president. "It seems a hospital should be leading the way."


The U.S. Green Building Council established Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, criteria to promote buildings that are environmentally responsible and healthy places to work.


A total of 2,164 new construction projects have been LEED-registered in the U.S. since 2000, and an additional 273 have completed certification, according to the council.


In the Chicago area, seven buildings have been LEED-certified, including the Oriole Park branch of the Chicago Public Library, 7454 W. Balmoral Ave., the Chicago Police Morgan Park District station, 1830 W. Monterey Ave., and the Chicago Center for Green Technology, 445 N. Sacramento Ave.


Other projects awaiting certification are Bolingbrook High School and Prairie Crossing Charter School in Grayslake.


Michael Blasek, chairman of the Chicago chapter of the Green Building Council, said certifying a building involves more than just putting up solar panels to save money on electricity. Certified buildings use less energy and water, incorporate recycled materials and natural lighting, and reduce toxic construction materials, he said.


"There are so many factors in deciding whether a building is environmentally friendly or not," Blasek said. "In addition to energy saving and using less fossil fuels, there is also a benefit to the people who live and work in them. You need to use materials in them that don't make people sick."


Lutheran General hopes to break ground this spring, pending approval from the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board. Completion would be in early 2009, the hospital's 50th anniversary year at its Park Ridge location.


Lutheran General's proposed addition is one of several major hospital projects in the works in the Northwest suburbs.


Elgin's Provena St. Joseph Hospital won state approval in August for a $97 million expansion and modernization. St. Joseph's main competitor, Sherman Hospital, is drawing up plans to build a $280 million replacement facility on Elgin's West Side.


Spurring each of the projects is the need to modernize aging health-care facilities while increasing the number of single-patient rooms, officials say. Such rooms have become the industry standard in recent years because of a sharp rise in antibiotic-resistant infectious organisms, and a preference for privacy, Campbell said.


Although the new tower would increase Lutheran General's licensed bed capacity to 645 from 617, the goal is not expansion. The primary focus is replacement of facilities and improvements to support new technology unavailable when the hospital was built in the 1950s, Campbell said. The 380,000-square-foot tower would be built on Dempster Street, with the top floor devoted to a 28-room mother-baby unit, while other floors would house critical care, oncology, neurology-stroke and surgical units.


The hospital staff might get one of the biggest boosts from the addition.


"If you design a building with natural light and use materials that are worker-friendly, you can contribute to increased job satisfaction," Campbell said.


To see more of the Chicago Tribune, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.chicagotribune.com.


Source: Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News


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