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Sustainable Healthcare Architecture

By Robin Guenther and Gail Vittori. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2008, 429 pages, $75.

Reviewed by David Sokol

If ever there was a building type that should be the poster child of sustainable architecture, it’s healthcare. According to USGBC heavyweight Rick Fedrizzi’s foreword to Sustainable Healthcare Architecture, “Healthcare construction is a $41 billion industry and is expected to grow 11 percent this year. Operating those buildings to meet patient needs consumes tremendous energy and resources; hospitals use twice as much energy per square foot as office buildings and spend nearly $3 billion each year on electricity alone.” With the coming onslaught of geriatric Baby Boomers, construction projections surely will reach higher. And considering the wellness effects of a zero-VOC, daylight-filled space, the imperative for healthcare architects—and perhaps more urgently, their clients—to embrace green practices will only grow stronger.

Sustainable Healthcare Architecture
Image courtesy John Wiley & Sons
Robin Guenther and Gail Vittori, Sustainable Healthcare Architecture, 2008
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Sustainable Healthcare Architecture offers a roadmap to improving healthcare facilities in textbook-like detail. Robin Guenther and Gail Vittori have, in fact, devised three books in one. Case studies of hospitals, outpatient centers, therapeutic gardens, and research and other medical buildings spanning the globe offer real-world examples of best practice; expert essays and long excerpts blend in-depth knowledge with advocacy; and the authors’ own prose navigates the subject, hitting guideposts such as operational savings, LEED, and the Green Guide for Healthcare. Sustainable Healthcare Architecture is not beach reading for the casual observer, but rather a reference for the architect who wants to make a difference.

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