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Are Hospitals Transforming to Laboratory Design Standards? Lessons Learned in Green Hospital Design

Steven A. Straus, Glumac International
Mike Smith, Mahlum Architects

Providence Health System wanted to design a new state-of-the-art hospital/laboratory that eliminated infectious control issues to the greatest extent economically possible. Designed during the SARS epidemic, and with new criteria established by the CDC, Providence directed the design team to explore what methods could be implemented that met the goals of the infectious control department and did so in a method that achieved a LEED™ rated hospital. Are hospitals becoming more like laboratory facilities? Unquestionably, yes. The ability to provide active pressure control between spaces and requirements for 100% exhaust/100% supply, make the modern hospital similar in nature to laboratory facilities.

The design team began with an eco-charette, evaluating numerous opportunities, and the results included the following:

  • Clean Air - an HVAC system that utilized 100% outside air and 100% exhaust, with heat reclaim.
  • Pressure Control - an HVAC system that provided automatic pressure control of all occupied spaces throughout the hospital to ensure that proper pressure relationships are maintained within each of the spaces.
  • Daylight Harvesting - advanced architecture, coupled with state-of-the-art lighting systems and controls, which optimized daylighting within the patient rooms while reducing operating costs.
  • Sustainable Materials - extensive use of recycled materials throughout every phase of the project, including design and construction.
  • High Efficiency Central Plant - a central plant, with heat reclaim, and 90% efficient condensing boilers.

The result is an award winning new hospital, with laboratory facilities, which has been submitted for silver LEED™ certification.


The project went through an extensive analysis, as Providence wanted to achieve all of their goals within their original construction budget. After the LEED™ eco-charette was completed, the team developed an extensive DOE2 energy model to evaluate multiple energy conservation measures and sustainable options. The lessons learned and important findings included:

  • 100% Outside Air, 100% Exhaust - the 100% outside air, 100% exhaust system substantially reduced first costs by eliminating an entire ductwork (return air ductwork) system. This also allowed the floor-to- floor height of the building to be reduced, reducing building envelope loses and materials for steel and skin. Operating costs are also lower, since the heat reclaim system coupled with the VAV operation, was more efficient than a conventional system.
  • Daylight Harvesting - the healing aspects of daylighting were extraordinary based on research projects we reviewed. Additionally, it provides the opportunity for improved productivity throughout the facility.
  • Dispatchable Generation - collaborating with the utility company allowed the onsite generation system to be connected to the utility company's distribution system to provide peak load shaving. This proved to be more cost effective than originally perceived.
  • Condensing Boilers - the increased efficiency of these boilers creates incredible savings for typical hospital applications where reheat energy is a large percentage of the building and energy usage.

Ultimately, all of the measures were incorporated into the original square foot budget.

Labs21 Connection:

Our goal was to reduce energy consumption by 30% over conventional design and we were able to achieve 26% difference through the use of technology and innovation. Although we referenced the Lab 21 point system, we implemented the USGBC LEED™ rating system. Currently the project is expected to receive 33-38 points and the team has a goal of achieving silver LEED™ certification.


Steven A. Straus, Glumac International
At Glumac International, Mr. Straus is actively involved in the design of major projects including Abgenix, Eastern Oregon University, Applied Materials Building 85 (Class I cleanroom), St. Vincent's Hospital Surgery Center, Digital Operating Suite for Providence Medical Systems and Providence North Pavilion Cancer Research Center. Mr. Straus graduated from the University of Berkeley with a Bachelor's Degree in Mechanical Engineering. He has 20 years of design experience in HVAC, plumbing, process piping and fire protection systems for all building types. Mr. Straus is a LEED™ accredited professional and the engineer of record for over a dozen projects that are LEED™ registered or certified.

Mike Smith, Mahlum Architects
At Mahlum Architects, Mr. Smith is actively involved in managing the firm's most significant laboratory and health care projects. He has over 30 years experience in architecture. Mr. Smith received his Bachelors Degree in Architecture from the University of Oregon and a Master's Degree from University of Washington. He has specialized in heath care and laboratory work for the past 22 years. Most recent projects are Rogue Valley Medical Center Expansion, Providence Newberg, Evergreen Hospital, Kirkland, WA. Emanuel Laboratory and Group Health Laboratory.


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