Green rating system distinguishes construction of high-performance facilities.

The U.S. Green Building Council has introduced its latest green building rating system, LEED for Healthcare, at the CleanMed conference. The rating system guides the design and construction of both new buildings and major renovations of existing buildings, and can be applied to inpatient, outpatient and licensed long-term care facilities, medical offices, assisted living facilities and medical education and research centers.

“Research has shown when we are treated and heal in a green health care facility – one that has a healthy indoor environmental quality and connects us to the outdoors – we heal faster, have shorter hospital stays and fewer return visits," saidScot Horst, senior vice president of LEED, USGBC. "LEED for Healthcare is now six years in the making, addressing the healthcare industry's unique green building needs.”

The LEED for Healthcare rating system represents a culmination of close collaboration between the Green Guide for Healthcare (GGHC), a project of the Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems and Health Care Without Harm, and USGBC. The GGHC pilot launched in 2007, and feedback from the projects helped in the creation of LEED for Healthcare.

“LEED for Healthcare represents a milestone for green building,” saidGail Vittori, co-director of Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems and Founding Chair of the LEED for Healthcare committee. “Building on the foundational work of the Green Guide for Healthcare, it provides an explicit recognition of health consequences associated with a spectrum of building-related decisions-from location, to water and energy sources and use patterns, and materials specification-and emphasizes integrative design as requisite for successful design, construction and building performance outcomes.”

LEED for Healthcare was developed to meet the unique needs of a 24-hour operational facility, including process water use related to medical equipment, rural facility locations, patient populations-often with compromised immune systems, sensitive to chemicals and pollutants-patient and staff health and many other issues unique to this building type.

The LEED for Healthcare rating system passed USGBC member ballots in November 2010. More than 225 health care projects have received LEED certification, with 1,176 in the pipeline as registered projects. Additional tools and resources, including educational workshops, webinars, podcasts, and a reference guide will be made available in the coming months when full certification functionality is available.

To learn more about LEED for Healthcare, pre-order a reference guide or to participate in a rating system-specific workshop,