Efficient Wisconsin Clinic Earns LEED

MONONA, Wis. — The UW Health Yahara Clinic in Monona lives and breathes efficiency. Not only does the staff follow a lean approach to processing patients — taking as little steps as possible to give them proper health care — the building was just awarded LEED certification this month, after meeting several conservation goals, such as reducing its potable water use by 37 percent and cutting annual energy costs by 14.7 percent.

It is one in only 438 LEED-certified health care-type facilities to earn the designation, representing a mere 3.1 percent of LEED-certified projects nationwide. But it is also one of a handful of health care facilities within the University of Wisconsin Medical Foundation’s system that already received the designation.

“UW strives to be sustainable and they make that a priority throughout the entire university,” said Deb Lovik-Kulemeir, BS, RN, TNS, clinic operations manager at the facility. “UW likes to be the leader in making positive solutions in our community, and I think they are taking the lead in this case.”

The UW Health Yahara Clinic serves the greater Madison area, offering family medicine, laboratory, X-ray, mammography and physical therapy services, as well as health and nutrition classes. Built with LEED certification in mind from the beginning, it officially opened in September 2011 and has been in the LEED mindset ever since.

“[Working towards LEED certification] has to be on the forefront of preconstruction. Every piece of construction and every design that you make or create has to have that LEED certification in mind,” Lovik-Kulemeir said. “Then, the clinic staff has to sustain whatever [the architects] created in the project and take it to the next step. The LEED application process is something that starts after construction is completed.”

Among the LEED standards that the construction team focused on were some of the more typical requirements: energy-efficient lighting, low-flow water systems, recycled construction materials and the use of low-VOC-emitting materials, to name a few. They also employed an HVAC system to help create good air quality.

As far as sustainable design goes, one of the highlights was the use of wood throughout the facility, creating an environment that appears less sterile than most medical clinics. For example, the front desk is made entirely of wood, and a cabinet in the lobby is made from walnut trees. The new clinic, which combined two area facilities, took the cabinet built by a wood smith in the McFarland community (where one of them was located) to display old medical instruments from the former Monona clinic, representing the joining of the two communities at the new facility.

Windows and the use of natural light also played a big role in accomplishing a LEED-worthy design. Offices and other spaces primarily used by the staff and public were placed close to the windows on the outside of the building, while more private areas such as exam and procedure rooms were located on the interior. However, even the lab facilities have windows located at the top of the walls — which make a more positive environment for the patients and staff alike.

“Our staff is able to sit by windows and look out at deer, turkey, cranes and possums, even though we’re in the middle of the city,” Lovik-Kulemeir said. “It’s so calming to have that nature around you.”

The 32,600-square-foot facility was designed by Milwaukee-based Kahler Slater and developed by J.H. Findorff & Son and Livesey Co., both located in Madison.

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