Environmental Design and Construction: May 2012 Highlights

I signed up for Environmental Design and Construction (EDC) and received the May Issue the other day. Two articles stuck out to me in this 113 page magazine.

1. The Shape of Healthcare, by Derrick Teal

The Upper Cumberland Regional Health Facility (UCRHF) is:

Owned by the State of Tennessee, the new construction of this 50,000-square-foot facility building was essential for compensating for the recent and expected growth of the regional health department. When construction finally came to an end in 2010 and the doors were opened, this headquarters for public health services would act as the command post for any public health emergencies that would arise in the region while housing supervisory and support staff for all of the surrounding counties’ public health facilities. ~ The Shape of Healthcare

The Upper Cumberland Regional Health Facility oversees the health departments in a 14-county region and provides regional medical specialty clinics, such as tuberculosis, women’s health, HIV and genetics. ~ Greensource: The Upper Cumberland Regional Health Facility

The roof line, siting, mechanical and energy sources are all well-thought out, contributing to Tennessee’s first LEED platinum building. At only 50,000 SF its a smaller hospital, falling under the category of the Small Hospital, Big Idea competition. The health facility is mostly administrative under the large sculpted roof designed to minimize extra heat from the south while increasing daylight for the interior. I would love to see LEED Platinum achieved by more clinical and emergency services.

2. Design is Preventative Medicine, by Brooks Rainwater

This article focuses on the other design issues that pertain to healthy buildings. As the author points out, most people think building green is primarily about sustainability, (like reducing water and electrical consumption), and as important as it is for well-being,

The architects’ role is not only to design exceptional healthcare facilities, but to also design communities that promote wellness. We as a nation have been spending billions of dollars on drugs and other medical innovations to cure those that have become ill. With healthcare costs in the U.S. projected to grow toward nearly 20 percent of GDP by 2020, can we really afford to continue down this current path?…

Place is reflective of health. Studies have shown that people living in urban areas are in better shape than individuals living in suburban and exurban communities. When you think of why this is, it is actually rather intuitive — city dwellers often walk, bike or take transit to work; they walk to nearby services like grocery stores and dry cleaners, and for other day-to-day necessities; and they live in smaller homes and therefore take more advantage of community amenities like parks and trails. ~ Design is Preventative Medicine

Brooks Rainwater writes an excellent article that points to items most sustainable and social architects want to think about. She cites the new Cooper Union Building by Morphosis as an example, which uses a skip-stop elevator to promote walking (for those who don’t require accessibility). In some ways, she’s ‘preaching to the choir’ of supporters by writing this in a magazine focused on environmental design. I would love to see more examples of ‘Preventative Design’ and the studies she references in magazines for developers and other businesses. The place to influence design and prevention responsibility lies not only with the architect, but in educating the clients as well.

Over all, I would recommend to anyone interested in sustainable/environmental design sign up for the EDC magazine because it has a lot of relevant articles for the profession, from details to broader topics. The digital edition is free, but there is also a print edition available for a fee.


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