While evidence-based design is sometimes the subject of stimulating debate, few would disagree that it has caused the industry to examine more closely the relationships between the built environment and hospital operations.

Indeed, as a result of these connections, today's hospital planning, design and construction teams are focused more than ever on the clinical, operational and even financial performance of the facilities they create. This requires a rare degree of cooperation, as team members work with specialists from inside and outside their organizations to help determine a project's priorities, convert them into a functional design and turn the plan into reality.

This is why the American Society for Healthcare Engineering's Vista Awards for team-based design and construction of the health care physical environment are so important.

Rather than simply judging projects on aesthetic points, the awards actually mirror the process by which hospitals are built by focusing on the key stakeholders who have been involved from inception to completion as well as during any post-occupancy evaluations.

Teams are honored for working together to develop and maintain safe, high-quality health care environments, demonstrating effective and efficient communication and relying on data-based, decision-making processes. Eligible applicants include all employees, design professionals and other individuals involved in the planning, design and construction of health facilities in the categories of new construction, renovation or infrastructure.

Applications currently are being accepted for the 2012 Vista Awards. For more information, log on to www.ashe.org/about/awards/vista/index.html.

The deadline is Sept. 30, so hurry!