The USGBC has officially introduced LEED for Healthcare. The system, which was passed by USGBC member ballot in November 2010, applies to new buildings and major renovations of existing buildings in the healthcare field, and is meant to be applied to inpatient, outpatient, licensed long-term care facilities, medical offices, assisted living facilities, and medical education and research centers.

The launch of the system followed a pilot program of the Green Guide for Healthcare that was lunched in 2007 as a project of the Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems, Health Care Without Harm, and the USGBC. “Research has shown that when we are treated and heal in a green healthcare 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,” says Scot Horst, senior vice president of LEED for USGBC. “LEED for Healthcare is now six years in the making, addressing the healthcare industry’s unique green building needs.”

LEED for Healthcare was developed for the needs of a 24-hour-operational facility, including process water use related to medical equipment, rural facility locations, patient populations that often have compromised immune systems and are sensitive to chemicals and pollutants, and patient and staff health. In comparison to LEED for New Construction (LEED-NC), LEED for Healthcare modifies existing credits and features new, healthcare-specific credits. As an example, most of the indoor environmental quality credits are modified to align the need for infection control, toprotect patients from contaminants, and code regulations on ventilation with green building strategies. In all, six prerequisites and 25 credits were modified, and three prerequisites and 15 credits were added to the rating system. The minimum program requirements for LEED-NC also apply to LEED for Healthcare projects.

The system passed by USGBC member ballot with an 87 percent approval rate. Projects registered under LEED-NC 2009 will have the option to migrate their registration to LEED for Healthcare. A request to do so must be submitted via LEED Online. There is no fee to switch, but project teams will lose project data previously entered into the system. With the official launch of LEED for healthcare, projects that meet certain criteria must now use LEED for Healthcare instead of LEED-NC.

For more information, visit usgbc.org/leed/healthcare.