Queen of the Valley Hospital: The green surgery center.

April 12, 2007

When Queen of the Valley Hospital opens the doors of its new Outpatient Surgery and Procedure Center in Napa, California this month, patients and families will be greeted by warm colors, natural daylight, fireside seating and an open-air, trellised garden.

“We wanted to create an atmosphere that will minimize anxiety and promote healing”, said Kristi Ennis, Sustainable Design Director for Boulder Associates Architects.  Even the operating rooms and recovery bays are flooded with daylight, and patient’s windows are provided with privacy via a nearby living wall of pink trailing roses.

Queen of the Valley Hospital, a St. Joseph Health System facility, incorporated numerous “green” features into the surgery center.  A major focus was the reduction of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) in the interior finishes.  Due to the widespread use of reproductive toxins such as DEHP and heavy metals like lead, cadmium and mercury in the manufacture of PVC, QVH chose to make a statement against such building products by using as little of them as possible.  Vinyl composition tile and sheet vinyl were replaced with polyolefin, ceramic, and rubber flooring products. Wallcovering, impact protection and roller shades were constructed from alternative materials.  Even the stretch-fabric ceiling over the reception desk, made of inherently flame retardant polyester fabric, met the imposed criteria.

Sustainable materials showcased at the facility include recyclable rubber flooring, cubicle curtains, carpet and ceiling tile – all of which can be remanufactured into similar products at the end of their useful life through currently available programs.  Toilet partitions are made from 70% rapidly renewable materials, and the rubber flooring is inherently anti-bacterial. Casework, carpet, toilet partitions, adhesives, paints, sealants and caulks are all low-emitting, and many of the materials contain over 30% recycled content.

Boulder Associates specified locally manufactured products wherever possible, reducing transit for materials while simultaneously supporting the local economy.  Concrete traveled less than 6 miles from manufacturing plant to jobsite, while concrete block used for the building exterior was made in nearby Dixon, CA.  Everything from the brick, to the windows, to the structural steel frame meets the LEED and Green Guide for Healthcare standards for regionally manufactured materials.

Energy-saving features include a high-efficiency, evaporative condensing chiller; high-efficiency, atmospheric, low NOx boilers; variable frequency drives to operate all air handler fans and hydronic pumps; full direct digital control system with airflow monitoring and control of domestic recirculating pump; air-side economizers; and high-efficiency spring isolation for air handlers to reduce perceived noise and vibration in building.  One-half gallon per flush urinals will save precious potable water.  Even the layout of the building will contribute to its efficiency, as operating rooms placed on the north side of the building will take less energy to cool. Queen of the Valley Hospital and St. Joseph Health System will be celebrating Earth Day this year by stepping lightly on the earth and into their new Outpatient Surgery and Procedure Center.