At home, you turn off the lights when you’re not using them, wash most clothes in cold water, and look for other ways, small and large, to cut down your energy bills and help the planet. But in the hospital, being energy efficient remains a unique challenge. The technology alone requires a lot of energy, said Derek Tasch, Health System architect. For example, compare the energy usage of just one piece of hospital equipment to a house in a given day: “An MRI uses the same amount of electricity as six suburban homes!”
And so, in building the new Pavilion at HUP, sustainability efforts have been part of the plan from the beginning. Starting with the demolition of Penn Tower which formerly stood at the site, numerous building materials were recycled, including 291 tons of scrap steel saved for future construction and 17,000 tons of concrete re-used at the construction site. Once the Pavilion’s construction was underway, many materials and systems, such as mechanical/electrical/plumbing racks, and even bathrooms, were pre-fabricated and manufactured off-site, then transported to the building, minimizing on-site waste and maximizing energy efficiency.
The building itself uses 100 percent outside air through its HVAC system, which could be a source of wasted cold and heat — but it has energy recovery wheels to recapture and repurposing energy from the conditioned air into other systems as free energy. Water will also be a repurposed resource. Rain and runoff water on the roof will collect in cisterns located throughout the property, which will then be used for the chilled water system for heating and cooling the building. “People often look for obvious signs of green efforts, like solar panels,” Tasch said. “What we’re doing is far more than that and may not be immediately apparent when walking by the facility.”
Sustainability Inside and Out!
As part of the effort to minimize on-site construction and reduce waste of materials, the Pavilion has patient rooms that can adapt to the acuity (seriousness) of a patient’s condition, as well as flexible operating rooms. Rather than redesigning rooms or transferring patients to areas with specialized equipment, the design of the Pavilion allows patients to stay in a standardized room where equipment and resources can easily come to them, meeting needs for all levels of care in one space and reducing the need for major renovations for decades to come.
Between its landscaping and green roofs, there is now an acre of greenery on the Pavilion property to create a calming space for patients, visitors, and staff. These landscaped areas will comprise native and hardy species that require minimal watering and maintenance and can withstand difficult conditions. In addition, a new terraced garden and plaza will replace a small parking lot next to the Penn Museum.
This greenery will be clearly visible when walking across Discovery Walkway, a new pedestrian pathway connecting the facility to Penn Medicine Station, a part of SEPTA’s Regional Rail line. To make train travel more appealing and accessible — and thus reduce traffic in the area — there will be a new stairway and elevator leading to the pedestrian pathway.
And for those biking to the campus, 352 new bicycle parking spots will be installed at various locations surrounding the Pavilion, with an additional 70 spots next to the staff entrance by the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine.
The Pavilion will also have a continued focus on sustainability reflected through its artwork, such as the whimsical piece “DNA Tree of Life,” which will be displayed in the atrium. The two-story tall artwork, created by Maya Lin, is part of her collection of environmentally themed projects, incorporating recyclable materials and bringing attention to ecological causes. An advocate for the environment, Lin was awarded with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016 for her work involving art and climate change. In addition, the facility will feature artwork by Philadelphia artists focused on themes of healing, peacefulness, and meditation.
Because of these latest innovations, the Pavilion is currently on track toward receiving a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification, a globally recognized symbol that promotes achievement in sustainable design and construction.
“Reducing our energy footprint can have a direct impact on public health,” Tasch said. “It’s exceptionally important for Penn to move towards being a leader in sustainability.”