UW Health Yahara Clinic Receives LEED Certification

The UW Health Yahara Clinic in Monona, Wis., has become LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified for sustainable design and construction. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), LEED is an internationally recognized, voluntary program that provides a framework for designing, constructing, operating and maintaining high-performance, sustainable buildings.

The facility joins the small portion of LEED-certified buildings that are health care-related, explained Matthew Tendler, principal at architecture and experience design firm Kahler Slater and LEED specialist on the project. As of Nov. 30, only 438 LEED-certified facilities in the United States listed health care as a space type, representing only 3.1 percent of all LEED-certified projects nationwide.

“Health care facilities are particularly challenging when it comes to sustainable design, given their stringent operating requirements and inherently high demands for energy and water,” Tendler said.

A team from Kahler Slater’s Milwaukee office were the architects and interior designers on the project. J.H. Findorff & Son Inc.’s Madison office was the general contractor. Livesey Company of Madison was the developer.

Opened in October 2011, the 32,656-square-foot facility offers family medicine, laboratory, X-ray, mammography and physical therapy services, as well as health and nutrition education and group classes. The clinic is operated by the University of Wisconsin Medical Foundation, one of the largest multi-specialty medical groups in Wisconsin and the nation. 

In implementing sustainable practices, the clinic has reduced its potable water use by 37 percent, reduced its annual energy costs by 14.7 percent, and helped maintain healthy indoor air quality.

Maintaining Healthy Indoor Air Quality

Choosing products, technologies and techniques that help maintain healthy indoor air quality was a key priority, said Mark Larson, associate principal with Kahler Slater and manager of the clinic project.

All ceiling systems, wallboards and finish materials, such as carpeting, paints, wallcoverings and sealants, meet or exceed LEED standards for low emittance of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Before the clinic moved into the facility, the building was flushed out with fresh air for two weeks to remove any pollutants that may have been emitted by building materials.

“Green” cleaning practices maintain indoor air quality and infection control standards while also helping protect the global environment – and earned the project “Innovation Points” as part of the LEED certification process. Vacuum cleaners have HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters. Low-VOC-emitting cleaning products are used.

Access to Natural Light

Access to natural light was another key driver in the facility’s design. Offices and other spaces used primarily by the staff are located along the building’s exterior and have windows, while exam and procedure rooms are located toward the inside.

“It’s the opposite of what you often see in a clinic, but it makes a lot of sense,” Larson said. “The light is shared as much as possible with the staff members who are in the building all day. Clerestory windows then transfer the light to the patient spaces, giving those areas an open feel while also enhancing privacy.”

Other Sustainable Features and Practices

Among the other sustainable practices used in designing, building, operating and maintaining the UW Yahara Clinic are:

  • Care was taken to preserve and protect the adjoining natural wetlands. A detention pond captures storm water runoff; the water is then filtered through native grasses before returning to the wetlands.
  • Landscaping emphasizes native plants that will thrive without irrigation. No permanent irrigation system was installed.
  • Exterior light fixtures keep light focused downward – promoting safety for patients and staff and preventing the “skyglow” light pollution that can be harmful to wildlife.
  • Overhead interior lights automatically dim on bright days. Task lighting in individual work areas allows employees to customize lighting to their needs and preferences.
  • Pressure-assisted toilets reduce water consumption.
  • 30.3 percent of the total building materials content (based on value) was manufactured using recycled materials. This includes steel framing, concrete, drywall, carpeting, asphalt and fiber cement siding.
  • 70 percent – or 86.35 tons – of on-site generated construction waste was diverted from landfills. This included drywall, asphalt and steel.
  • 28.04 percent of building materials used (based on value) were manufactured or extracted within 500 miles of the building site.

Advancing LEED Standards

The project team also contributed to research being conducted by the USGBC by sharing with the organization additional details about the building materials used. That real-world information will be used in developing the next generation of LEED standards.

“The USGBC is moving toward standards that are based on lifecycle assessment methodology, in which they look at the cradle-to-grave environmental impact of building materials, from the extraction of the raw materials to manufacturing, installation, use and eventual demolition and disposal,” Tendler said. “It’s a more scientifically rigorous assessment and a more balanced, holistic approach that provides a truer picture of a product’s impact.”

Kahler Slater’s Second LEED-certified Facility for UW Medical Foundation

The UW Health Yahara Clinic is the second LEED-certified clinic that Kahler Slater has designed for the UW Medical Foundation. The UW Health Stoughton clinic in Stoughton, Wis. received LEED Silver certification in May 2010, becoming the first health care facility in Wisconsin to be awarded LEED Silver certification.

About Kahler Slater

Founded in 1908, Milwaukee-based Kahler Slater began as a regional provider of architecture and interior design services and has grown to become a global, award-winning team of Experience Designers. With three offices in the United States and Singapore, Kahler Slater is a team of creative problem-solvers who work with visionary clients seeking better experiences and environments for themselves and the people they serve. Follow Kahler Slater online at www.kahlerslater.com and on Twitter at @KAHLERSLATER.

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