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Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford becomes the West Coast’s first LEED Platinum children’s hospital

Courtesy of Tim Griffith
(Credit Tim Griffith)
(Credit Tim Griffith)
(Credit Tim Griffith)
(Credit Tim Griffith)
Courtesy of Tim Griffith
(Credit Tim Griffith)
(Credit Tim Griffith)
(Credit Tim Griffith)
(Credit Tim Griffith)

The new Main building at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford has been awarded LEED Platinum certification by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The hospital, which opened in December 2017, is one of just five new hospitals — and the second children’s hospital — in the world to earn the USGBC’s Platinum designation.

“Sustainability is a core theme for our new hospital and served as a guiding principle in the design and planning process,” said Dennis Lund, MD, interim chief executive officer and chief medical officer of Stanford Children’s Health and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford. “We are thrilled to receive this esteemed certification, and we applaud the extraordinary efforts and dedication of our design, engineering and construction partners who made this possible.”

The 521,000-square-foot building and 3.5 acres of gardens and green space were designed, planned and built by design architects Perkins+Will; executive architects and medical planners HGA; engineers at Mazzetti; and general contractor DPR Construction. The teams worked closely with patients, families, and hospital faculty and staff to create the one-of-a-kind facility, which is anchored by the core themes of providing a family-centered approach to health care and meeting the highest standards for sustainability.

“What sets Packard Children’s apart is the combination of a high-performance building enclosure that reduces solar heat gain and facilitates innovative, low-energy systems; advanced water-conservation strategies; extensive integration of landscape, including occupied gardens and green roofs; and a focus on local, recycled, and healthy materials,” said Robin Guenther, FAIA, LEED fellow, principal at Perkins+Will, and the lead designer of the expansion project.

According to USGBC’s website, projects pursuing LEED certification earn points across several categories, including energy use and air quality. Based on the number of points achieved, a project may earn one of four LEED rating levels: Certified, Silver, Gold or Platinum. Packard Children’s is the fourth hospital in the country and the second U.S. children’s hospital to receive a LEED Platinum certification.

Innovative sustainability systems
Designing for sustainability was the right thing to do on all fronts, according to Dr. Lund.“The decisions to design for optimal energy efficiency and water use and to use healthy materials were natural choices for the organization,” Lund said. “We intend for this hospital to be a reflection of its Northern California environment, and sustainability is embedded in the fabric of the Bay Area community.”

Innovative systems were built to achieve the highest possible sustainability standards and to reduce energy and water use. As a result of these systems, Packard Children’s overall energy consumption is expected to be reduced by 60 percent and its water consumption is expected to drop by nearly 40 percent compared to regional hospital averages.

Reducing energy and water use
Perkins+Will and Mazzetti estimate that overall the hospital has reduced its carbon emissions by 90 percent compared to the average U.S. hospital. “Thanks to the hospital’s purposeful design strategies as well as Stanford University’s efficient central utility plant and the carbon-neutral municipal electricity grid in Palo Alto, Packard Children’s is able to dramatically reduce their carbon footprint,” said Guenther.

Packard Children’s Hospital is the first major hospital in California to implement the use of a displacement ventilation system and the first hospital in the country to use it in all acute care patient rooms. Displacement ventilation foregoes the traditional approach of blowing cool air from ceiling registers, which requires more energy to push the air down. Instead, it brings air into rooms at the floor level. Displacement ventilation also improves indoor air quality and reduces audible ventilation noise.

A distinct feature of the building’s facade are the horizontal orange slats, called louvers, positioned like awnings across the top of each window. These are part of an external shading system that minimizes direct sunlight penetration into the building, which helps reduce solar gain — the increase in temperature caused by the sun. It also cuts down on the need for air conditioning, which requires both energy and water. Minimizing direct sunlight penetration into the building is also essential for the displacement ventilation system to work effectively. Hence, the design of the exterior walls directly supports the hospital’s ventilation system selection and its energy efficiency goals.

Additionally, in a departure from traditional facilities, the hospital’s data center is positioned on the roof rather than in the basement, a move that dramatically reduces the fan energy required to keep it cool and allows it to utilize cool nighttime outdoor air rather than air-conditioned air for much of the year.

Maintaining a safe environment for children and their families requires an abundance of clean water. With conservation-driven water systems implemented across the hospital campus, Packard Children’s is an industry leader in maintaining sustainable complex medical systems and equipment as well as essential services like heating and cooling, laundry, sterilization, sanitation, and food service.

The hospital’s water-conserving, energy-efficient equipment such as dishwashers and sterilizers are projected to use about 80 percent less water than their standard counterparts. Water-cooled pumps and air compressors are being eliminated to reduce water usage, and on-demand sinks and ultra-low-flow bathroom fixtures are expected to save 2.5 million gallons of water per year.

Courtesy of Steve Babuljak
Courtesy of Steve Babuljak

Packard Children’s is one of the early pilot facilities for LEED credits related to nature connectivity. The new hospital’s grounds add 3.5 acres of gardens and green space to the pediatric campus. These gardens offer distinct places of respite to both families and staff, including outdoor overlooks on every nursing unit as well as a series of garden spaces adjacent to the lobby, on the main concourse floor, and near the staff entrance. In addition, outdoor planters are integrated in the solar-shading system, providing an immediate connection to nature for every patient room and at the centralized family lounges on each floor.

The hospital’s drought-tolerant and water-efficient landscaping is irrigated with non-potable water only, which is collected in two 55,000-gallon underground cisterns. The cistern system filters, stores, and reuses water collected from rainfall, mechanical equipment condensate, and even hemodialysis. According to Guenther, Packard Children’s is the first hospital in California to employ this cistern technology, which is expected to save as much as 800,000 gallons of water per year.

“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 rainwater.”

Locally sourced, health-conscious materials
According to Perkins+Will and general contractor DPR, more than 28 percent of the hospital’s building materials, including carpet, tile, steel, and concrete, contain recycled content, and more than 26 percent of those materials were extracted or manufactured within 500 miles of Palo Alto. The centerpiece of the new hospital’s lobby is an elevator bank that was designed to look like the trunk of a great redwood tree. It is clad in reclaimed redwood salvaged from the 200-foot-tall Moffett Hangar One, an iconic 1930s naval hangar in nearby Mountain View that had long been a landmark in Silicon Valley before being deconstructed in 2012.

“Earning the LEED Platinum certification is a tribute to the tremendous thought and planning that went into this building over the course of a decade,” said Lund. “We are proud to be setting an example for progressive hospital design, proving that the most advanced medical care can be provided in an environmentally conscious facility.”

About Stanford Children’s Health and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford
Stanford Children’s Health, with Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford at its center, is the Bay Area’s largest health care system exclusively dedicated to children and expectant mothers. As a top-ranked children’s hospital by U.S. News & World Report, we are a leader in providing world-class, nurturing care and achieving extraordinary outcomes in every pediatric and obstetric specialty. Stanford Children’s Health provides everything from specialty care to general pediatrics and can be accessed through more than 60 locations across Northern California and 100 locations in the U.S. western region. As the pediatric and obstetric teaching hospital for the world-renowned Stanford University School of Medicine, we’re cultivating the next generation of medical professionals and are at the forefront of scientific research to improve children’s health outcomes around the world. We are a nonprofit organization committed to supporting the community through meaningful outreach programs and services and providing necessary medical care to families, regardless of their ability to pay. Discover more at

About DPR Construction
DPR Construction (DPR) is a forward-thinking national general contractor and construction manager specializing in technically complex and sustainable projects for the healthcare, advanced technology/mission critical, life sciences, higher education and commercial markets. Founded in 1990, DPR is a privately held, employee-owned company that has grown to a multi-billion-dollar organization with offices around the country.