Environmental responsibility and health care are on the national conscience, as Americans are becoming increasingly concerned with the well-being of the planet and themselves. Addressing these concerns is the first-of-its-kind Green Patient Room, a health care exhibit utilizing ecologically friendly design and materials to show just how green hospital facilities can go.

The Green Patient Room was recently featured at the International Facility Management Association’s (IFMA’s) World Workplace 2007 Conference & Expo in New Orleans. It was unveiled earlier this year at D&D Communications Group’s Commercial Construction Show in Chicago.

The creators of the unique room - Anshen+Allen in conjunction with the IFMA Health Care Council and Corporate Realty, Design & Construction - said it was developed “to illustrate how sustainable design practices can improve patient care by increasing efficiency and reducing the anxiety of medical staff, patients, and families.” The room also serves as an educational tool for health care administrators, “showing how they can adopt green practices now,” said Gary Collins, president of the IFMA Health Care Council.

“To my knowledge, no one has done a Green Patient Room as an educational exhibit prior to this,” said Collins, AIA, who is also associate principal for Anshen+Allen. “It may not happen over night, but this display will help hospital personnel learn how to update their facilities with the latest in green products, whether they want to undertake a multiphase remodel or go green, one component at a time.”


Part of the innovation of the room is that it is divided into three unique zones: patient, family, and staff. Each zone is meant to improve patient care by increasing comfort and minimizing disorder and stress.

Including the bathroom and much of the bedroom, the patient zone is designed to provide patients as much control over their environment as possible. Potentially intimidating medical equipment is discreetly located on one side of the patient bed, where it is easily accessible to medical staff, yet out of sight of patients and their families.

The family zone is designed to encourage family stays, as studies show families who visit frequently and stay longer are more involved in patient care, helping to improve patient well-being and facilitate healing. Reminiscent of a living room, the family zone features a sleeper sofa, television, desktop space, and other amenities.

The staff zone is organized to accommodate staff workflow and provide better access to equipment by reducing clutter and improving lighting, thereby designed to help minimize injury and medical error.

The Green Patient Room also takes practical, cost-effective steps to combat energy waste and improve patient health. Low-flow rate faucet aerators, showerheads, and toilets are used to reduce water consumption. High-performance lighting, glass, and insulation systems are installed to utilize natural light and reduce energy costs. Nontoxic materials low in volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions are used throughout the room, designed to improve indoor air quality plus speed patient recovery.


According to Suzanne Drake, the result is a room founded on evidence-based design (EBD) principles, meaning “the dynamic of the room itself can contribute to patient care and encourage the healing process.”

“We are only now beginning to recognize and study the human body’s subtle interactions with the environment - this is what EBD is all about,” said Drake, senior interior designer for Anshen+Allen and a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-accredited professional. “EBD is still a burgeoning science, so whenever we can demonstrate - with hard data - why we need a design which may cost more upfront, it’s an easier decision for the building’s owner to make. EBD gives us, as designers, instant credibility, and it gives building owners peace of mind that they are making the right decision.”

Publication date:11/05/2007