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Green Building & Sustainable Development

New Geisinger Health System Building Green Center for Health Research

Geisinger Center for Health Research, a $21 million 63,000 square foot building which opened this month, signals a watershed in Geisinger's green-building commitment.

The green building trend, which is popping up all over the United States, now has a foothold in Danville. Geisinger, known as a leader in healthcare and an innovator in healthcare technology, is leading the region's green building initiative.

The green credo- energy-efficient, buildings full of features that stress the natural over the chemical, the recycled over the new and the renewable over the finite - is evident in this light-filled building, according to Geisinger project engineer Mitch Leiby.

"We pursued the green concept because it was simply the right thing to do," explained Leiby, who has worked closely on the project with the Ewing Cole team of Steve Gastright, project architect and Tom Appelquist, design architect. "We had an opportunity to influence the growth around us, and we took it."

Geisinger is pursing certification by LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), a voluntary green building rating system that defines, measures and certifies buildings that are environmentally responsible, economically efficient and healthy places to live and work. The LEED certification process includes a thorough review of the building's design features, construction plans and records.

Green features in the Geisinger Center for Research, which is positioned between the Janet and Sigfried Weis Research Center and the west side of the Geisinger Medical Center, include:
  • non-toxic paint and finishes.
  • extensive use of natural daylight that reduces dependency on electric lighting and provides windows view for more than 90 % of office space.
  • lighting control system that dims the lights when there is natural daylight available and turns off lights in unoccupied areas.
  • high efficiency heating and cooling systems.
  • recycled and locally obtained building materials, for example a reinforcing bar of recycled steel.
  • rain and wastewater capture.
  • bicycle storage, showers and locker rooms for employees who bike to work.
  • recycled materials used in construction, and recycling of construction debris.
  • electricity provided from renewable sources.
  • storm water runoff control features.
  • eco-roof of soil and native plants to slow runoff and curb the "heat island" effect of sunshine beating down on conventional roofs.
  • environmentally-friendly furniture (95% of the components are recyclable).
  • building "skin" of glazed glass to maximize energy saving and interior light.
  • fresh air ventilation, an air filtration system and careful selection of building materials to provide high indoor air quality.
"Utilizing green technology and construction materials added no more than 1-2% to costs," Leiby noted. "That's a number we stand to recapture in energy savings."

Studies show that green building have a value beyond energy savings. Organizations are documenting energy less absenteeism and less time lost to allergies and illnesses aggravated by mold and chemicals odors associated with traditional buildings.

"Obviously this is a value that we will monitor closely," added Robert Davies, Geisinger's Vice President, System Services. "This promises to be the first of many green buildings for Geisinger because we believe it's the right thing to do for our communities and our employees."

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