Demonstrating its commitment to sustainability, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, Memphis, Tenn., ensured that the recently opened Methodist Olive Branch (Miss.) Hospital features energy-saving innovations rarely seen in U.S. hospitals.

The first licensed hospital built in Mississippi in 25 years, the new 210,000-square-foot, 100-bed facility is on track for U.S. Green Building Council LEED Gold certification, according to Gresham, Smith and Partners, the design firm that worked on the project.

Methodist Olive Branch is among the first hospitals in the United States to use an electrochromic glass system in its two-story lobby, which has a western exposure that faces the hot afternoon sun.

The glazing system is automatically scheduled to transition from clear to a variable tint to reduce glare, solar gain and cooling load, and keep visitors comfortable, says Richard Kelley, P.E., LEED AP BD+C, project manager, corporate facilities management department, and project leader for the new hospital. Manufacturers also located in Olive Branch produce the glaze.

The hospital also is distinct for its use of a geothermal heat pump system. A total of 211 custom-made heat pumps were installed throughout the building, including one in each patient room, to maximize comfort and save energy compared with a traditional system of chillers and cooling towers.

"We're about 30 percent below the baseline in energy savings so we're about 30 percent more energy-efficient than the average hospital of a comparable size, in large part because of the geothermal heat pump system," Kelley says. "We are looking to be an Energy Star-rated facility and I think we're going to have an Energy Star rating of about 95."

Kelley also praised the use of integrated project delivery. Besides Gresham, Smith and Partners, other members of the team included engineering firm Smith Seckman Reid Inc. and general contractor Turner Construction Co.

"Our team was committed to providing a new hospital that would play a vital role in the community and that would also reflect our organization's commitment to building innovative, sustainable facilities," says David Rosenbaum, vice president, facility management, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare.