Sustainable Design and the Cost of Healing

Ensuring efficiency, health, safety, and welfare at the systems level
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Sponsored by ASI Group, CRL, Inpro, and New Millennium Building Systems
By Jessica Jarrard

Specifying high-quality materials and solutions

Now that we understand the importance of adequate space, the dividing of the space, climate control, noise reduction, and lighting the space, we’ll discuss how high-quality materials can contribute to positive outcomes for both the facility and its occupants.

Foundational Support and Structural Efficiency

Thin-slab floor systems are versatile and space efficient, providing many options for increased building performance and total-project cost savings. The floors are often integrated with cold-formed steel (CFS) wall panels to provide a space-saving approach that is ideal for multistory building designs. For example, whether bearing on CFS walls, concrete walls, steel joists, or wide flange beams, a deep-ribbed composite deck floor system can provide open spans up to 36 feet, with a total floor depth range from 7.625 inches to 12.625 inches. The result is an increase in floor space and ceiling height, and possibly a reduction in building height—design possibilities that can vitally impact the financial future of a hospital environment, where available floor space will continue to be at a premium.

Performance-Related Considerations

Other factors related to floor performance include fireproofing and vibration. When specifying long-span floor systems, a concern may be that longer floors with fewer support beams may lead to an increase in floor vibration. This concern can be readily addressed by consulting with the manufacturer early in the design process. Based on the needs of the building, the manufacturer can also advise on vibration testing to assure the avoidance of unwanted deflections and perceptible walking-induced vibration.

Develop and Achieve Aesthetics

Health-care facilities should not only be functional, but also inviting. Patients and families of patients are often experiencing a lot of stress and discomfort when they visit a medical facility. Therefore, enhanced aesthetics can help to improve their experience.

When patients approach the facility, they will first notice the exterior facade. Glass entryways not only provide a glimpse of the inviting interior before the patient enters, but also allow for ample daylight to pass through and create bright interiors that help improve patient morale.

As patients sit in the waiting room or travel down the corridors, wall systems provide protection against damage from gurneys, wheelchairs, and carts. Damaged or dingy walls can create anxiety for patients who come to the facility to heal. Specifying quality wall materials and wall protection not only can protect the walls but also create a more positive environment for patients. These protective wall systems are easy to clean and are available in many colors, designs, and patterns to brighten interior spaces and to help calm occupants with scenes of nature or inspirational imagery.

Long-span composite floor systems vary aesthetically, as non-acoustical versions can be left exposed for a bold, deep-fluted ceiling appearance while exposed acoustical versions present a smooth, linear plank aesthetic with thin structural ribbing. The exposed steel deck panels are also available with a variety of coating options to enhance the finished look and feel of the project. Long-term durability is another consideration. For example, exposed decking coated with acrylic products have a durability range of 5 years, polyester products 10 years. A polyvinylidene fluoride (PVFD) coating with a clear topcoat can extend service life up to 25 years.

You will also want to assess ways to aesthetically integrate the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) systems into the floor, ceiling, and wall structures. Certain MEP runs can pass through the channels of a deep-ribbed composite floor and be painted to visually blend into the recessed ribs. Alternatively, a cellular deck having a bottom enclosure can conceal some MEP runs.

Connecting Interior Spaces to Nature and the Great Outdoors

In health-care facilities, some patients may be able to enjoy outside spaces and access to outdoor windows while others may not. Regardless of a patient’s ability to move around the facility, there are solutions available on the market to allow health-care facilities to adapt interior spaces, ensuring that patients can connect with nature and enjoy all the positive health benefits it can promote.

Connecting Occupants with Nature and the Great Outdoors

A survey reported in WorkDesign magazine found that about 35 percent of respondents don’t get more than 15 minutes of outdoor time during a typical workday. For patients in wards or long-term care, even more time is spent indoors.

While most designers, building managers, and occupants can agree that daylighting is an important part of building design and an effective way to connect occupants to nature, it is impossible for each room in a large health-care facility to have a window with a view. For interior spaces, one effective tool is to employ biophilic design.

The term “biophilia” refers to a hypothetical human tendency to interact or be closely associated with other forms of life in nature. (Merriam Webster) Simply put, biophilia has come to mean: Love of living things. A close corollary would be: Love of nature.

Biophilic design is a concept used within the design profession to increase occupant connectivity to the natural environment through the use of direct nature, indirect nature, and space and place conditions.

The theorists argue that this approach taps into the hardwiring of human beings who, over the span of evolution, have developed an affinity for the life-supporting aspects of the natural world.

In an article in Commercial Architecture (February 2016), Senior Editor Ken Betz writes:

Roger Ulrich, Ph.D., EDAC, is a professor of architecture at the Center for Healthcare Building Research at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden. In a study performed in 1984, he suggested that surgery patients recovered better in rooms with a view through a window. But “what few realize is that Ulrich’s famous study was essentially about the impact of biophilic design on the built environment,” said David Navarrete, director, research initiatives, The Sky Factory, Fairfield, IA.6

The idea then is to allow building occupants to have direct access to nature—for example, a window, a balcony, a rooftop garden, adjacent nature walk, or a garden courtyard to allow them to experience nature. When outdoor access is either unfeasible or impractical—natural views, graphics, and imagery can be utilized.


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Originally published in Architectural Record
Originally published in July 2021


Sustainable Design and the Cost of Healing
Buyer's Guide
VelareTM BTM Collection
ASI’s VelareTM Behind the Mirror system is designed to elegantly conceal clutter. The stainless-steel cabinet houses a hands-free automatic soap dispenser, and choice of a paper towel dispenser or high-speed hand dryer with a HEPA filter. The mirrored door featuring ¼-inch-thick tempered glass is supported by twin damped gas springs when opened, and etched backlit icons that direct users to their choice of soap and hand-drying option. The sophisticated, high-capacity design makes it ideal for iconic buildings and high-traffic environments.
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Klarity Freestanding Glass Partition
Klarity seamlessly defines interior spaces using expansive glass spans that maximize transparency and daylighting. The system features ultra-slim ¾-inch posts that provide virtually unobstructed views and spacious floor plans. Klarity is available in 5-foot, 6-foot, and 7-foot post heights, making it ideal for applications with high or exposed ceilings.
Imagining the Possibilities
Surf’s up! In a medical facility? Large-scale imagery can provide patients, guests, and hospital staff visual cues to connect areas within the building. Whether it is a logo, artwork, or photography, Inpro will bring it to life. The company offers solutions that work together to create a cohesive interior.
Deep-Dek® Thin-Slab Floors
Deep-Dek® Composite is a long-span composite floor system ideal for multistory projects capable of open spans up to 36 feet—including unshored pours up to 22 feet—and low-profile floor slabs as thin as 7.635 inches. Its space-saving capabilities create column-free spaces that maximize ceiling height and reduce building height. Versatile and efficient, Deep-Dek® Composite weighs less than equivalent concrete floors, yet installs faster—leading to earlier building occupancy. It can be left exposed for a bold, deep-fluted appearance, while a cellular deck option creates a smooth surface with thin structural ribbing. The cavities created by its deep-ribbed design facilitate mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) integration or can accommodate options for acoustic control
New Millennium Building Systems