On October 26–28, 2005, in Pittsburgh, PA, key members of the building industry, green design community, health-care industry, academic institutions, and government agencies gathered in a targeted dialogue to consider the feasibility of forming a consortium to improve how healthcare facilities are planned, designed, constructed, and maintained. The roundtable formally documented the drivers and expectations of participants; instinctual, emotional, and intellectual reactions of participants to healthcare facilities greening; and the strengths, opportunities, and challenges posed by the task of greening healthcare facilities. Three areas of consensus emerged clearly from the discussion: (a) All participants supported the formation of a consortium focused on the greening of healthcare facilities; (b) All believed the mix of expertise will make this consortium unique; and (c) All believed that the development of a shared research agenda among the building industry, healthcare providers, and academia is vital.
The proposed greening healthcare consortium envisions: (1) Providing a network for sharing existing research and findings related to greening of healthcare facilities; (2) Facilitating collaboration between healthcare projects, current research, and hospital performance data; and (3) Providing an informed basis for healthcare design and construction decision-making. Based on input from the roundtable discussions, eight research thrusts were identified that the proposed consortium would be ideally positioned to address based on the competencies and positions of the members. These eight research thrusts are: (1) establishing the relationships between facilities and clinical outcome; (2) defining cost-value relationships regarding green building; (3) understanding the basis for decision making; (4) compiling a data repository; (5) developing active and passive research methods; (6) investigating interdependencies; (7) minimizing or eliminating waste; and (8) implementing research.
The active inter-industry discourse promoted by this consortium between the healthcare industry, building industry, and academic institutions allows for a unique dynamic to be harnessed between the “physiology” of healthcare and the “physics” of healthcare facilities. This will enable the delivery of healthcare projects and the quality of healthcare to be continuously improved and enhanced. The operational framework for the proposed consortium would rely on projects from the building and healthcare industries serving as case studies for gathering information and incorporating the developments of research at academic institutions.