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The U.S. Green Building Council has awarded the Orthopedic Building — a medical office building on the campus of Rush University Medical Center — Gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system and the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of green buildings.

The 220,000 square-foot Orthopedic Building, which opened to patients in November 2009, is jointly owned by Rush and Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush, the private practice medical group whose 38 physicians are on the Rush faculty. Midwest Orthopaedics and Rush collaborated on the plans, administration and financing of the building, which houses outpatient services for orthopedics and sports medicine. By the end of July, it will also be home to physicians and scientists at Rush from rheumatology; communication disorders and sciences, including audiology and speech-language pathology; and otolaryngology, head and neck surgery.

LEED certification offers third-party verification that the building was designed and built using green strategies aimed at conserving resources such as energy and water, reducing carbon dioxide emissions, and improving indoor environmental quality. There are four levels of certification for which buildings can qualify: certified, silver, gold and platinum.

Going for the Green
To meet the criteria for Gold LEED status, the Orthopedic Building was designed with numerous energy-efficient and sustainable strategies, including the following:

  • The building features an extensive green roof that reduces the rate of storm water run-off by 25 percent.
  • Permeable pavers in front of the building also reduce storm water run-off and reflect sunlight to prevent heat absorption. These efforts, combined with landscaping and high-reflective roofing, reduce the building’s heat island effect*.
  • Recycled concrete, steel and ceiling tiles were used during construction, and half of the construction materials came from manufacturers within 500 miles of Chicago, reducing emissions and fuel used during transport.
  • The building has low-flow plumbing fixtures, including dual-flush toilets and solar powered faucets, and the water-efficient landscaping design requires no irrigation system.

Creating an Eco-Conscious Campus
Rush is also seeking Gold LEED certification for its new hospital building, a 14-story 841,000 square-foot in-patient building currently under construction across the street from the Orthopedic Building. The new hospital, scheduled to open in January 2010, and the Orthopedic Building are the largest components of the Rush Transformation, the most comprehensive construction and facilities renovation program in Rush's more than 170-year history.

The health care industry is one of the largest users of energy and largest producers of waste. Hospitals use more than two times the energy of commercial office buildings. As a result, only four hospitals in the country currently are Gold LEED certified and fewer than 100 nationwide have LEED certification.

Like the Orthopedic Building, the new hospital will have numerous green features, including the following:

  • More than 90 percent of the steel being used to construct the building is recycled.
  • Overall power usage (0.62 watts/sq. ft.) in the new hospital will be 50 percent less than the amount used by most hospitals.
  • Green roofs will reduce the heat island effect* and reduce storm water run-off.
  • Using air conditioner condensation to fill cooling tanks will save 1.3 million gallons of water per year, and using highly absorbent microfiber mops will save an additional 500,000 gallons of water per year.
  • Furniture and interior finishes will be at least 20 percent post-consumer recycled materials, and some of the products, such as sofas and recliners, will be 95 percent recycled content.

"We are very excited to be among the health care and education leaders that are pushing the edge on LEED technology," said Mick Zdeblick, vice president of operations, Rush Office of Transformation. "Health care is a very difficult industry to work within as it pertains to energy efficiency, sustainability and other LEED design type issues. Gold LEED on the Orthopedic Building is just the beginning for this campus."

*The term "heat island" refers to urban air and surface temperatures that are higher (by as much as 2 to 10 degrees farenheit) than surrounding rural areas. Elevated temperatures can adversely impact communities by increasing peak energy demand, air conditioning costs, air pollution levels and heat-related illness and deaths. For more information on urban heat islands, visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Web site.

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Please note: All physicians featured in Discover Rush Online are on the medical faculty of Rush University Medical Center. Some of the physicians featured are in private practice and, as independent practitioners, are not agents or employees of Rush University Medical Center.

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