Stanford Medicine Newsletter Updates For the Local Community


New hospital puts a premium on sustainability

Bert Hurlbut oversees the construction progress of the new Stanford Hospital, which eatures environmentally sensitive features like curtain wall window units that adjust to control sunlight.


When visitors gaze out the windows of the patient rooms in the new Stanford Hospital, they will be able to look over a vista of rolling hills, rooftop gardens and green landscaping. But what they might not notice are the environmentally sensitive mechanisms designed to make the hospital sustainable and protect those expansive bedside views.

The 15-by-8-foot windows in most of the new hospital’s private patient rooms are among the first in the United States to integrate automated blinds inside tempered-glass panels to help cut down glare and heat from sunlight. A 6-inch air pocket between the inside and outside glass panels holds a Venetian blind controlled by sensors; an automated system opens, closes and raises the slats based on season, time of day and angle of the sun to stabilize room temperature and optimize comfort.

Energy efficiency

The curtain wall units are among the unique features of the new Stanford Hospital that incorporate sustainable design and energy conservation. While the building is designed to accommodate advanced treatments and technologies in a modern and welcoming environment, it also places a premium on environmental health and careful use of resources. Scheduled to open to patients in 2018, the new 824,000-square-foot hospital will feature 368 private patient rooms for a total of 600 onsite patient beds, adaptable operating rooms and an emergency department more than twice the size of the current one.

“Hospitals require huge amounts of energy,” said Adele Houghton, the project sustainability consultant. “The new Stanford Hospital building itself is massive. Medical equipment emits heat that puts extra strain on the cooling system. Refrigeration and infection control add complexity to its demands. The challenge is to achieve energy efficiency while accommodating current needs and planning for the future.”

Recycled resources

The building features innovative heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems that maximize efficiency and minimize demands on energy and water. Air will be brought in through low wall registers and circulate up to ceiling vents to make room temperatures more stable. Forty-five automated air-handling units will recycle about 80 percent of the building’s air; the automated systems will change air six times an hour in patient rooms and 12 times an hour in the operating rooms to maintain a sterile environment.

The windows were constructed in Austria since no U.S. factory could accommodate their size, according to Bert Hurlbut, vice president of construction for the new Stanford Hospital. The curtain wall units are slated for three levels on the south, east and west sides of the building to control the sunlight. In addition to reducing the risk of infection, the high-efficiency curtain wall glass will cut 97 percent of ultraviolet light and diffuse sunlight for comfort.

“We’ve introduced new systems for lighting, sunlight, water, heating, landscaping and infection control,” Hurlbut said. “We estimate the hospital will use 20 to 30 percent less energy than a comparable hospital.”

Electrical equipment, data servers and other heat-producing services are located below ground level, where they will be cooled by air drawn from a “moat” built around the 35-foot-deep foundation walls. Lights in conference rooms and multipurpose team rooms will be activated by sensors only when the rooms are in use.

Indoor air quality is a key component of sustainable concepts incorporated into the hospital’s design. Adhesives, sealants, paint, coatings, carpet systems and composite wood products were selected to reduce emissions. The building will be tested to verify optimal indoor air quality, and a combination of enhanced ventilation and a green cleaning protocol will maintain healthy indoor air quality.

A collection system on the third floor for condensate water — water extracted from cooled indoor air — will store up to 2,600 gallons to supplement the irrigation system of the five rooftop gardens. Four acres of native and low-water plants will create a living roof to provide a green retreat for relaxation. The gardens help to insulate the building and improve overall air quality.

Construction efforts

Even the building’s construction incorporates green practices. “The goal is to use 10 percent recycled content and 10 percent regional materials from within 500 miles of the state of California,” Houghton said. “More than 75 percent of the construction waste is being diverted from landfill, including some of the structural steel and rebar, as well as metal framing and decking, acoustical ceiling panels, doors and aluminum louvers.”

Hurlbut estimates that more than 1 million gallons of water have been saved to date by recycling the water used to wash down truck wheels at the end of the workday. Copper pipes and ductwork for the operating rooms’ medical gas consoles were constructed offsite as one unit and brought into place, a system that is more efficient, safe and sustainable, he added. The project also incorporates an indoor air quality management plan, which reduces dust during construction and protects the ventilation system from construction dust.

“Everyone on the project is committed to sustainability,” Hurlbut said. “It’s a top priority to conserve resources, energy and water, and minimize our environmental impact on the community.”

Learn more about the Stanford University Medical Center Renewal Project at

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