APPLETON, Wis. — Construction on the third phase of Affinity Health System’s St. Elizabeth Hospital in Appleton will be completed by the end of the year and phase four, which includes a four-story inpatient bed tower with all-private rooms, is underway and is scheduled for completion in January 2015.
Appleton-based The Boldt Company is serving as the construction manager, and HGA, with offices in Milwaukee, is the architect.
As part of the hospital’s mission, the patient experience and incorporating green building design into that experience has been a top priority. The use of external light and connection to nature, for instance, has been a significant part of the design. Another big sustainability factor is that the construction team used the existing building as much as possible, instead of working on new building projects.
“We didn’t increase the footprint until phase four of the project. Almost everything else was built in the existing building, which is one sustainable story that often doesn’t get reflected,” said Gary Kusnierz, vice president of performance excellence for Affinity Health System.
The hospital has been undergoing a complete transformation since phase one began in 2005, and several green building elements have been incorporated throughout the process.
“Environmental stewardship is a large part of our values,” Kusnierz said. “We started looking at just doing the right thing and figuring out ways to reduce our energy costs, while also trying to link everything back to enhancing the patient experience.”
Phase one included a new two-story, 150,000-square-foot facility, which gives the hospital a new entrance, customer and staff service spaces, and more space for nuclear medicine, radiology and cardiology departments. Several of the material products used for phase one were harvested locally, and an effort was made to choose products, such as eucalyptus wood, that are rapidly renewable. Stormwater management for the new parking structure (also part of phase one) was another sustainable solution for the site.
The second phase of the construction project featured the new Heart, Lung and Vascular Center. The project included a vertical expansion of 9,600 square feet; an adjacent two-story, 11,200-square-foot addition; and 3,00 square feet of interior remodeled space. In 2010, the center received LEED Gold.
Several elements, including high-recycled material content, construction waste management, and efficient interior lighting, plumbing fixtures and interior fans added to the designation. The combination of savings from these systems allows the center to achieve an energy-use savings of 16.6 percent and an energy-cost savings of 26.9 percent over baseline systems.
Phase three features a new emergency department, surgery preparation and recovery area; a women and family center; cancer center; and central utility plant. The new emergency department, which opened about 18 months ago, allows the hospital to treat 32,000 patients annually with additional multipurpose space to care for about 40,000 patients. The women and family center includes the creation of a breast center dedicated to cancer diagnosis and redesigned birthing suites, and the cancer center gives patients access to medical and radiation oncology. Updating the utility plant includes replacing the 50-year-old equipment with new technology that retains an estimated energy savings of 25 to 30 percent annually.
Two green roofs were added to St. Elizabeth Hospital throughout the project. One was installed in 2009 as part of the Heart, Lung and Vascular Center, while the other was installed atop the hospital’s cancer center in 2011. A third roof is being included in phase four of the project.
“The use of rooftop gardens when we started were not really done much in Wisconsin,” Kusnierz said. “We piloted around with the use of rooftop gardens — both in terms of patient experience and sustainability — and they have been very positive.”
While hospital green roofs provide healing benefits, they also contribute to energy savings for the building by reducing cooling costs in the summer and by reducing stormwater run off.