Designing a Water-Wise Hospital at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford

PALO ALTO, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Preserving natural resources, especially water, is a central aspect of
the Lucile
Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford
expansion and new main building.

While maintaining a safe environment for children and their families
requires an abundance of clean water, the hospital is setting an
industry-leading example in how it will maintain its complex medical
systems and equipment, as well as essential services like heating and
cooling, laundry, sterilization, sanitation, and food service.

This approach is more than a nicety: Hospitals today are the third most
water-intensive public buildings, behind senior care facilities and
hotels, using an average 570 gallons of water per staffed bed per day,
according to Healthcare Design magazine. In comparison, the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency estimates that an average person uses
about 80 to 100 gallons of water per day.

As construction continues on the hospital project, architects,
designers, and planners are changing the numbers on water consumption.
The expanded facility, scheduled to open in 2017, will add 521,000
square feet to the approximately 300,000-square-foot existing hospital,
expanding and streamlining care for children, expectant mothers, and
their families, and adding more private rooms. Once the expansion opens,
the hospital will have a total of approximately 330 beds on-site, with
later expansion up to 361 on-site. Together with other locations, the
hospital will have 397 licensed beds.

“Throughout the design process, we looked at sustainability as a key
feature,” said Jill Ann Sullivan, MSN, RN, vice president of hospital
transformation and space planning. “Using water wisely makes an impact
on the whole community and saves money in the long term. Plus, it’s
simply the right thing to do.”


An inherent sense of environmental responsibility is a driving force
behind the design, which makes sustainability and “green” systems a top
priority. The building integrates nature seamlessly into its layout,
with almost four acres of gardens and green space for patients,
families, visitors, and staff to enjoy.

The landscaping will feature native and hardy adapted plants that
require minimal water, such as drought-tolerant varieties of yarrow,
flax lily, mountain lilac, lavender, and sage. A specially designed
blend of grasses that requires little or no water will be planted
instead of a traditional lawn. Expanses of greenery and permeable paving
allow rain to be absorbed into the region’s groundwater rather than
running off into the Bay.

A water-sensitive approach to the building was factored in long before
California’s current drought made xeriscaping with native plants popular
and water usage a major concern. “In 2008, when we started planning, we
knew there was not enough rainfall to sustain even the most efficient
hospital’s needs,” said Robin Guenther, FAIA, LEED, principal at
Perkins+Will and the lead designer of the expansion project. “That
presented the option of finding ways to reuse water as much as possible.”

The result? No potable water will be used for irrigation. These
water-efficient landscapes will be irrigated with rainwater and
condensate water—water that is extracted from dehumidifying indoor
air—that will be collected in two 55,000-gallon underground cisterns.
The distilled water that is used nonstop in dialysis equipment also will
be routed to the cisterns, ensuring that water will be available even
when there is no rainfall. Recycling these sources will save as much as
800,000 gallons of water per year, said Michele Charles, LEED project
engineer for the expansion who acts as the project’s sustainability
liaison, adding that the system is adaptable and additional cisterns can
be integrated in the future.

“Nature is an important part of the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital
identity,” Guenther said. “We wanted to create a verdant experience for
patients and families. We wanted the look and feel of a lush, green
landscape, much like the existing building, but one that could be
maintained solely with water from the cistern and natural runoff.”

Shading and location

The expansion will also incorporate an extensive external shading system
to minimize direct sunlight penetration throughout the year. Limiting
direct sunlight helps to reduce solar gain—the increase in temperature
caused by the sun—cutting down on the need for air conditioning and its
subsequent need for both energy and water. And, in a reversal from
traditional locations, the hospital’s data center has been positioned on
the roof rather than in the basement, a move that allows it to use
outdoor air as a cooling system rather than air conditioning for much of
the year. Guenther says that the building’s thermal energy consumption
is projected to be close to 60 percent less than average Northern
California hospitals.

Equipment systems

Water-conserving dishwashers and sterilizers are projected to use about
80 percent less water than their standard counterparts. Water-cooled
pumps and air compressors will be eliminated to reduce water usage.
On-demand sinks and low-flow bathroom fixtures—which also are being
phased into the current hospital—are expected to save 2.5 million
gallons of water per year. Together, these systems in the new building
are expected to use 38 percent less water than in a comparable standard
hospital, according to Guenther. An electronic dashboard in the main
lobby will display the building’s ongoing water and energy usage.

The current hospital

The existing hospital facility also operates in a water-wise manner,
especially on its grounds. Designed during a drought in the late 1980s
and opened in 1991, most plants are drought-tolerant. “An ongoing
program to monitor and replace or repair misaligned or broken sprinkler
heads limits runoff, and plantings are mulched to shade the soil and
retain moisture,” said Patrick Connor, administrative director of
support services. Rather than using artificial turf, lawns are mostly
drought-tolerant and have an efficient irrigation system, which invites
families and visitors to lounge and play. New weather-based irrigation
controllers are also being installed.

“Sustainability is a guiding principle in everything we do,” said Christopher
G. Dawes
, president and chief executive officer of Lucile Packard
Children’s Hospital Stanford and Stanford Children’s Health. “Everyone
on our team shares in this commitment. It’s part of being a good
neighbor and a member of the larger community, and ensuring we’re doing
the best thing possible when it comes to preserving all of our
environmental resources.”

About Stanford Children’s Health and Lucile
Packard Children’s Hospital

Stanford Children’s Health, with Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital
Stanford at its core, is the largest Bay Area health care enterprise
exclusively dedicated to children and expectant mothers. Long recognized
by U.S.
News & World Report
as one of America’s best, we are a leader in
world-class, nurturing care and extraordinary outcomes in every
pediatric and obstetric specialty, with care ranging from the routine to
rare, regardless of a family’s ability to pay. Together with our Stanford
physicians, nurses, and staff, we can be accessed through
partnerships, collaborations, outreach, specialty clinics and primary
care practices at more than 45 locations in Northern California and 100
locations in the U.S. western region. As a non-profit, we are committed
to supporting our community – from caring for uninsured or underinsured
kids, homeless teens and pregnant moms, to helping re-establish school
nurse positions in local schools. Learn more at
and on our Healthier,
Happy Lives blog
. You can also discover how we are Building
the Hospital of the Future
. Join us on Facebook,
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Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford
Robert Dicks,