Opening the West Cobb Medical Center in Austell, Ga., would be news enough because it is Kaiser Permanente’s third medical facility in Cobb County, and the 13th in the burgeoning Atlanta metropolitan area. What makes it more remarkable is that it is KP’s first facility in Georgia constructed with an environmentally conscious “green design” – from its recycled metal shingles to its rubber flooring.
The 26,000-square-foot facility is part of a construction plan that will see KP invest close to $24 billion in approximately 4,000 current and future construction projects between now and 2014. The scale of the capital outlay creates an enormous opportunity to utilize green construction techniques, which create buildings designed to operate with maximum energy efficiency and with reduced environmental impact.
“It makes sense for an organization that is focused on health to ensure that our buildings are safe for the environment and the people who occupy them,” says Phillip Ouellette, facilities services manager for KP’s Georgia region. “Green-designed buildings help conserve energy as well as reduce indoor air quality problems and exposure to hazardous materials.”
Some of the green products and methods used in building the West Cobb center include:
- State-of-the-art energy management systems, which include HVAC controls for temperature and start times, occupancy sensors in all clinical spaces, and an overall lighting control system that adjusts lighting during daytime and evening hours. As a result, resources are conserved and utility-related expenses are reduced.
- Metal shingles made from recycled steel were used on the backside of the medical building. If the building needs to be expanded, these shingles can be removed and recycled, or reused at another location.
- The building’s reflective thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) roof is more environmentally friendly than traditional petroleum-based roofing products and reduces utility costs while conserving resources.
- Carpet made with Ethos backing, which is manu-factured by C&A Floorcoverings in nearby Dalton, Ga. This carpet features a PVC-free backing that was developed specifically for Kaiser Permanente and is less toxic than PVC-based products.
- Nora rubber flooring, which replaces vinyl composition tile in all clinical areas, helps to reduce slips, trips and falls. This type of flooring also alleviates the need for waxing and stripping, which further reduces environ-mental services workers’ exposure to harmful chemicals. It also reduces the possibility of harmful chemicals being accidentally released into the public sewer system.
- Automatic flush valves on toilets and automatic faucets that reduce water waste.
- Coreless toilet paper and touch-free automated paper towel dispensers that reduce excess paper waste. Additionally, toilet paper and paper towels are made from recycled paper.
- More than 100 newly planted trees provide shade and ambiance around the facility.
“We will continually work to improve the environmental friendliness of our 12 existing medical facilities throughout metro Atlanta,” Ouellette said. “We believe what’s good for our environment is going to be good for our members, our employees, and the community as a whole.”
In addition to the West Cobb center, Kaiser Permanente is building new facilities in two other Atlanta-area locations. A medical center near Stonecrest Mall in Lithonia off Interstate 20, and a Northwest Gwinnett County location in the Sugar Hill/Buford area, are both expected to open later this year. These facilities also will feature elements of green design and construction.