In the United States, the dominant standard is the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating, which is administered by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). Commercial buildings that are LEED certified not only have lower operating costs and provide a healthier, safer environment for occupants, they also allow the owner to qualify for tax rebates, zoning allowances and other incentives. Because of the unique nature of the health care industry, the USGBC has created a special LEED rating system for health care buildings.
The interesting thing to note about LEED ratings is that contractors and builders have a large amount of latitude on how they reach the certification. LEED does not specify what kinds of technologies or green components must be used to reach each level, and aside from the established prerequisites, points need not be attained in certain combinations. That means two buildings with identical point totals and LEED status may use completely different strategies, techniques and technologies to attain unique green results. One may excel in innovation and the other may focus on sustainability, but they both could ultimately achieve the same status.
However, transitioning to a green facility is easier said than done. Health care facilities have unique needs that often clash with green initiatives, such as their 24-hour operation, different lighting requirements in different rooms, large amounts of water usage and the variety of equipment that must be operated continually. However, there are ways to incorporate green features while still maintaining necessary health and safety standards in your facility. It is important that you educate yourself, so that you can make the best decision for your own organization regarding going green.