Green building innovator in Australia to administer a dose of design for sustainable hospitals

04 Sep 2017

4 September 2017

Green building innovator Gail Vittori will be in Australia this week to demonstrate how sustainable design can boost efficiencies in hospitals while actively contributing to better patient outcomes.

Ms Vittori has been a cornerstone of the green building movement in the United States for three decades.

Acknowledged by Time Magazine as an “innovator building a greener world”, Ms Vittori is the Co-director of the Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems and the Chair of Green Business Certification Inc.

She has coupled her passion for sustainability with healthcare design to earn a swag of awards including the first LEED-Platinum rating for a hospital anywhere in the world.

The co-author of the landmark book, Sustainable Healthcare Architecture, Ms Vittori says sustainable design in a healthcare setting is not a cost but a “value-add”.

“A green hospital can create an environment that reduces the stress levels of medical practitioners, which measurably improves their performance and their delivery of patient care. It also contributes to increased retention which correlates with reduced turnover, saving dollars and ensuring smoother overall operations.

“Tackling recruitment and retention is often among the top five issues that concern C-suite hospital executives.

“Meanwhile, investments in improved energy and water performance lowers operating costs, resulting in more dollars that can be redirected to patient care,” Ms Vittori adds.

Australia has 10 Green Star-rated healthcare projects, including the New Royal Adelaide Hospital and Flinders Medical Centre in South Australia, and the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness Centre in Victoria.

The Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) is also collaborating on several large-scale healthcare projects, including the Sunshine Coast University Hospital and the Northern Beaches Hospital in Sydney, which are both registered to achieve Green Star ratings.

Ms Vittori says “compelling” evidence shows that investment in sustainable healthcare design can be achieved for “nominal” cost premiums.

“A sustainable hospital can be built on budget or at less than a five per cent premium,” she says.

“And the benefits that accrue, with improved patient outcomes, reduced length of stay, enhanced staff recruitment and retention and lower operating costs, for example, more than offsetting those initial investments.”

The GBCA will be hosting a webinar, A dose of sustainable design, on Friday 8 September from 12.30pm to 1.30pm, during which time Ms Vittori will be sharing case studies of excellence in sustainable healthcare.

Among these are Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas – the first LEED Platinum Hospital in the world. 

Ms Vittori worked on the project, which “honoured the health dimension in every aspect, from remediating a brownfield site to providing healthy work environment for construction workers, and from the selection of healthy materials to ensuring a strong connection to nature both indoors and outdoors.”