A new study released by the architecture firm Perkins+Will reveals cost premiums are decreasing for healthcare facilities to achieve LEED certification and are not cost prohibitive in most cases, but they remain a sticking point.
Numbers down from 2008
The study was conducted by Robin Guenther and Breeze Glazer from Perkins+Will, and Gail Vittori of the Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems. The results reveal the average capital cost premium for LEED-certified hospitals under 100,000 square feet was 1.24 percent and for hospitals over 100,000 square feet only 0.67 percent. “LEED Certified Hospitals: Perspectives on Capital Cost Premiums and Operational Benefits” was based on analysis of 15 LEED-certified hospitals completed between 2010 and 2012.
The 2012 numbers represent a decline from the 2.4 percent average premium reported in 2008 by a similarly designed survey also done in part by Guenther and Vittori, which gathered information from 13 hospitals of varying sizes.
The survey found that LEED certification costs accounted for 0.05 to 0.10 percent of the project’s total cost, with the bulk of the cost premium associated with design features and processes. However, more than half of the 15 hospitals studied achieved a higher level of LEED certification than initially planned, and design features added in later stages resulted in harder-to-control capital cost premiums. Survey respondents said 40 percent of their healthcare clients might be less likely to pursue LEED certification on future projects because of this added cost, but respondents said they would continue to pursue LEED projects.
What costs extra?
Optimized energy systems, low-flow bathroom fixtures, and bicycle storage were some of the most commonly reported features contributing to high premiums. The study’s authors asked whether projects are “estimating the operational savings associated with energy, water, site planning, and material strategies. Are projects quantifying the human and environmental health benefits realized from building a LEED certified vs. a conventional hospital?”
Unfortunately, they found that less than a third of the surveyed projects conducted a post-occupancy evaluation, and the authors bemoaned a widespread lack of access to operational data, even among survey respondents at the surveyed hospitals.
The results of the study can be found in Sustainable Healthcare Architecture, second Edition, co-authored by Guenther and Vittori.
Copyright 2013 by BuildingGreen Inc.