University of Florida health: designing the nation’s first 4 Green Globes-certified hospital

Learn how the University of Florida's hear vascular and neuromedicine hospital achieved their 4 Green Globes.

By John Chyz, PE, LEED AP, WELL AP, Affiliated Engineers Inc. October 8, 2018

Powered by an onsite cogeneration plant and incorporating an intelligent palette of sustainable design and delivery strategies, the University of Florida Health’s Heart, Vascular and Neuromedicine Hospital is the first 4 Green Globes-certified hospital in the country.

Encompassing 540,000 square feet, the new state-of-the-art, $415 million hospital is the newest addition to the University of Florida Health campus. The building is connected to the Shands Cancer Hospital, a LEED Gold-certified project also designed by AEI. The base structure accommodates clinics on the ground level with terraces above and a shared surgery platform on the second level that spans the new drive into campus. The hospital has 216 patient beds and 15 operating rooms – five general ORs each for cardiovascular care and neurosurgery procedures, two neurosurgery hybrid ORs (i.e., surgical theaters equipped with advanced imaging), one cardiac hybrid OR and two vascular hybrid ORs.

Green Globes is a rating system with BREEAM lineage developed by the Green Building Initiative (GBI). The GBI is a US-based, non-profit accredited ANSI standards developer founded in 2004 and headquartered in Portland, Ore.

The Green Globes program has four levels of certification, beginning with one Globe “demonstrat[ing] a commitment to environmental efficiency practices. Four Green Globes denote projects that demonstrate “national leadership and excellence in the practice of energy, water and environmental efficiency to reduce environmental impacts.”

Reviewed and verified by a qualified third-party, scores are tallied against a 1,000-point scale, with 85% representing the threshold for a 4 Green Globes certification. To date, only 77 projects in the US have achieved a four Green Globes certification: 53 existing buildings, 21 new construction projects and three sustainable interiors. The new hospital is among the largest and most complex in this elite group of buildings. How did the University of Florida Health’s Heart Vascular & Neuromedicine Hospital achieve their 4 Green Globes?


In addition to specifying a highly reflective roof surface that mitigates heat island effects, the project includes a large green roof on the third story terrace offering a respite for patients, visitors, faculty, residents, staff, students and volunteers. The green roof also assists with stormwater retention and evapotranspiration. Ninety-three percent of all irrigation water is provided by a municipal reclaimed water source. The landscape plan includes a palette of fully native and adaptive species with a detailed tree preservation plan for the live oaks that remain on the site. In addition, outdoor light pollution has been minimized through the design of zero up-lighting in parking areas.


Leveraging on-site power and hot water delivery from the GRU South Energy Center cogeneration plant and a myriad of responsible, energy-conscious design features, the project boasts a projected site EUI (energy use intensity) of 230 kBtu/ft/yr – a 50% improvement over the Energy Star median property. Aggressive energy management practices that have been spearheaded by AEI on the campus over the past several years were distilled into a roadmap of lessons learned. The most notable include enhanced building automation through intelligent control algorithms and a robust, ongoing commissioning program, much of which is automated.


Hospitals are highly water intensive. Owing to their function and 24-7 operation, they consume approximately 150% more water than the entire commercial building sector. The Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey data collected for inpatient healthcare facilities establishes an average water use intensity (WUI) of 50 gallons/SF/year. Balancing aggressive water use reduction goals with clinical purpose and patient needs, the hospital achieved a modeled water use intensity of 11 gallons/SF/year. Water use reduction strategies include using municipally reclaimed water for cooling tower makeup and site irrigation, low-flow fixtures for select patient rooms and public areas and using chilled water-cooled process equipment.

Resources and Materials

Acknowledging the importance of resource conservation, the team targeted an environmental performance assessment path for the building core, shell and interior fit-out to support sustainability goals in the early stages of design. The team prepared detailed life-cycle models to compare how the design alternatives performed relative to global warming potential, acidification, eutrophication, ozone, smog and fossil fuel indicators. In addition, the construction team embraced a set of robust construction waste management standards that diverted over 75% of construction debris from the landfill.

Indoor Environment

Superior indoor air quality, occupant comfort and well-being represent the guiding principles for inpatient healthcare environments. The design team supported the client’s vision for patient healing and employee health with a design that optimizes visual, acoustic and thermal comfort. It also addresses the health effects of building material choices and balanced daylighting with direct access to views of nature. The building employs a suite of strategies that include low-VOC materials, enhanced filtration in the air distribution systems, mechanized control of window coverings to address glare and heat gain and high STC ratings for partitions separating acoustically sensitive areas. The project also features a healing garden, reflection pond, waterscape and outdoor walkway along Rush Lake for patients, visitors and staff.


While healthcare projects, especially in-patient hospitals, are energy-, water- and material-intensive, the hospital demonstrates the value of sustainable strategy development for clients and design teams who are able to embrace the challenge. At Affiliated Engineers, rising to meet challenges that support a sustainable planet, healing environments and healthy indoor spaces are the life-blood of our work.

This article originally appeared on Affiliated Engineers’ blog. Affiliated Engineers is a CFE Media content partner.

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