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Health Information The Buzz On ... Green Initiatives at Rush's New Hospital

A guiding principle in the development of Rush University Medical Center’s new hospital building is that it not only is possible for a major hospital construction project to take the environment into consideration, it’s essential.

Rush is doing its part by including many environmentally responsible features in the new hospital building, also known as the Tower, which opens in January 2012. "From the beginning, it's been designed to use water and energy efficiently and keep down waste," says Mick Zdeblick, vice president, campus transformation at Rush. "We’re using environmentally responsible building materials, and we're recycling as much as we possibly can."

Rush's new hospital is green in many ways, including the following:

Building materials

  • More than 70 percent of the wood doors are made from materials harvested from certified sustainable forests.
  • The paint, adhesives and sealants are low in chemical compounds that produce harmful gases.
  • More than 90 percent of construction waste from the new hospital has been recycled.

Water conservation

  • Water-saving faucets and toilets will use roughly 30 percent less water than conventional plumbing.
  • Parts of the roofs that aren't covered with plants are white, which reflects sunlight rather than absorbing it. This keeps down the amount of heat the roofs accumulate, so that less energy will be needed to cool the building.
  • Condensed moisture from the air conditioners will be used for both watering campus vegetation and for the cooling towers of Rush's energy plan, saving an estimated 3 million gallons of water a year.
  • Using specially designed mops with highly absorbent microfibers will allow Rush to save 500,000 gallons of water a year.

Energy conservation

  • The hospital’s butterfly shape and other design features allow a large amount of natural light into the building, reducing the need for electric lighting. In addition, energy-efficient lighting fixtures and bulbs are used throughout the hospital. Sensors in all offices and staff work areas will automatically turn off lights when a room is unoccupied.
  • Energy-efficient fans and pumps will be used for heating and cooling.
  • Rush’s green initiatives will allow it to seek Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for the new hospital. LEED certification is awarded to buildings with high environmental standards.

Rush's goal is to receive gold LEED certification, the second highest of four possible levels. That would make the Tower one of the first large hospitals in the country to achieve such a high-level LEED certification.

"With these efforts, we'll make sure that the excellent medical care Rush provides for patients is matched with care for the environment," Zdeblick says.
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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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