LEED and the Health System

This edition of “Spotlight on Sustainability” reviews LEED: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

What Is LEED?

The LEED green building rating system was established in 1993 by the US Green Building Council, putting in to action USGBC's mission to promote sustainability-focused practices in the building and construction industry.  As processes mature and more vendors embrace sustainable practices, the rating system evolves.  At this time, it is transitioning from Version 3 (v3), released in 2009, to Version 4 (v4), which becomes the law of the land after October 31, 2016.

The path to LEED certification requires the completion of a host of credits in several categories, including Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality, and Innovation and Design Process.  Regional Priority Credits are also available.  Most of these categories include prerequisities, without which a project cannot pursue certification.  There are several types of certification applicable to the Health System, including New Construction, Commercial Interiors, Existing Buildings - Operations and Maintenance, and Healthcare (v4).  Campuses with student housing also seek certification under LEED for Homes.

There are four levels of LEED certification, achievement of which requires a specific number of points out of the 110 possible: LEED Certified (40-49 points), LEED Silver (50-59 points), LEED Gold (60-79 points), and LEED Platinum (80 to 110 points).

UC Green Building Policy

LEED certification has been a component of the Green Building policy for quite some time.  However, until fairly recently, a soft approach was taken in which a UC campus or medical center could opt to pursue LEED "equivalency", not participating in the formal LEED process, but attaining documentation that established that the project was pursued in a manner that LEED certification could have been achieved.  The Health System took this path for four projects, but did achieve "equivalency" for any of them.  The UC Sustainable Practices Policy now requires LEED certification unless one applies for, and is granted, a waiver from UCOP.

Current policy requires new buildings to obtain at least a LEED silver certification in the New Construction (NC) category, and tenant improvement projects with a construction value exceeding $5 million achieve at least a LEED Certified rating in Commercial Interiors (CI). If one reviews UC systemwide LEED certifications (http://bit.ly/22SNBAM), it is clear that, in most cases, UC projects do not settle for these entry-level certifications, particularly in the past three or four years.  Gold and Platinum certifications far outstrip Silver ratings in the New Construction category, and Commercial Interiors finds a majority of projects in Gold.  It should be noted that acute care facilities are currently exempt from the LEED requirement, which is appropriate given the challenges of aligning LEED requirements with OSHPD regulations.

LEED and the Health System

Stepping away from the old "equivalency" philosophy, the Health System is currently in pursuit of LEED Certification for four projects, as follows:

  • UC Davis Medical Group Midtown Clinic - slated for opening in late Spring 2017, this 90,000 square foot Folsom Blvd clinic is readily on path for LEED CI Gold, having flirted with Platinum until reality sank in.
  • ASB School of Nursing - this buildout of the western section of the 2nd story of ASB will house two classrooms and administrative spaces for the School of Nursing.  LEED CI Gold is within reach, but it will take a lot of work to reel it in.
  • Betty Irene Moore Hall - currently a gangly steel frame in the Education Quad, BIMH will be a wonderful home for the School of Nursing, scheduled to open in mid-2017.  The Sustainability Guy is pushing for LEED NC Platinum here; we can do it!
  • North Addition - at six stories and 130K SF, this will be quite the project, adjacent to the north side of the main hospital.  Designed to house many functions having to vacate the North and South Wings, the North Addition should be open in mid-2018.  The group that prevailed in the Design-Build competition said they can provide a LEED NC Platinum building, and they will be held to the task.

Feel free to contact the Sustainability Guy if you have any questions about our LEED projects.