Published on August 30, 2022

aerial sgmc new tower

New Shady Grove Tower will Feature Green Innovations

Green building principles benefit patients, reduce costs

What comes to mind when someone mentions a “green” building? Something fresh, healthy and smart for the environment?

That’s exactly what architects are planning for the new, state-of-the-art patient tower at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center. 

“Green building principles are extremely important to us. Our goal is to be world-class when it comes to creating safe, healthy environments,” says Todd Cohen, associate vice president of facilities and real estate at Adventist HealthCare. “We want to build a green hospital tower that will influence better outcomes for patients and the community.”

The new patient tower will stand on the surface parking lots outside Shady Grove’s current Emergency department.

Inside, the tower will house:

  • The new emergency department
  • A new intensive care unit
  • Medical surgical rooms
  • An emergency psychiatric unit
  • A critical care observation unit
  • New cardiac catheterization labs

Throughout the planning, architects have been thinking green. They’re incorporating special practices to create a building that is environmentally friendly, cost-efficient, safe and comfortable for patients and caregivers. 

Green building recycles heat

Among these green practices will recycling heat to reduce energy costs. Architects are overhauling and upgrading the central utility plant at the medical center to make it happen.

“We’re recycling heat that comes off major pieces of equipment, and we’re converting that heat into electricity. This is called cogeneration,” explains Todd. “Imagine a massive piece of air conditioning or a boiler that puts off a lot of heat. If we capture that heat and then basically convert it or find a way to exchange it for energy, it will reduce our electricity bill. So, we’re generating some of our own electricity.”

Other benefits of recycling heat include less waste, increased efficiency, reduced emission of pollutants and increased ability to recover after power outages.

Window glazing is green

The windows in the new patient tower are not an afterthought. Thanks to special glazing, the windows will block the heat when needed.

“We have special windows that allow daylight to enter the patient rooms but do not allow extra heat to come into the building,” explains Todd. “For example, we don’t need to increase the air conditioning to keep the building cool as you might with older windows. The window design is more efficient.”

These state-of-the-art windows also allow the hospital to take advantage of a concept called daylight harvesting. A lighting control system detects the amount of natural light entering the room and automatically adjusts the lights as needed. Harvesting natural sunlight reduces the need for artificial lighting, saving electricity.

Buying local whenever possible

When buying building materials for the new patient tower, the project managers have looked for green products made near Shady Grove Medical Center. 

“We look at our supply chain, and we consider where the manufacturing plant is. Instead of shipping a product from overseas, we try to buy locally whenever possible,” says Todd. “We really think about the way we buy things.”

The idea is to reduce the hospital’s carbon footprint (from shipping) as well as material costs.

The hospital also considers the working environment where building products are made. “Before we buy a significant amount of furniture, we actually go and look at the plant to make sure they’re treating their workers well, and it’s a clean, safe environment,” says Todd. 

Building safe, green rooms for patients to get well

When designing patient rooms in the new tower, the planners consider green materials that will maximize safety for patients.

For instance, they choose seamless, solid-surface materials countertops and sinks, rather than granite.

“We try to use sinks molded from one solid piece of material. We don’t want to use materials that require seams and caulk that can potentially trap germs,” says Todd. “In every room, we study vectors for infection and guard against that.”

Green buildings lead to better futures

Todd and his team at Adventist HealthCare are passionate about the benefits of building a green patient tower: patient well-being, healthy work environments and reduced costs.

“We take our jobs seriously. This is our neighborhood and our community, and we want to take care of it,” he says.

Groundbreaking on the new patient tower takes place in fall 2022.


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