ContributeOpening February 1, 2015

Green Design from the Ground Up


The most extraordinary opportunity in its history now stands before UCSF Medical Center: to build a children’s, women’s specialty and cancer hospital complex at UCSF Mission Bay that will define the future of human health care.

An integral part of this endeavor will be to fulfill UCSF Medical Center’s vision for the sustainability and green design of the new hospitals – a vision that entails the creation of a healthful environment both within these buildings for the healing of patients and the well-being of visitors and staff, as well as outside of the buildings for the health of our local and global communities. The project targets LEED gold certification.

In developing a new hospital complex at Mission Bay, UCSF seeks to innovate and maximize sustainable and eco-effective design and operations within the project funding available and in accordance with the University of California Policy on Sustainable Practices. We hope to attract philanthropic support and grant funding to help implement creative, eco-effective features.

Professional Partnerships

UCSF selected Anshen + Allen in association with William McDonough + Partners for the design of the Mission Bay hospital complex. Anshen + Allen, part of Stantec Architecture, is an award-winning, San Francisco-based architectural firm specializing in health care, research and academic facilities, and a pioneer in the effort to create a “green patient room” – benchmark designs using green materials and new technologies. William McDonough + Partners is a world-renowned leader in sustainability and eco-effective design.

LEED Certification

The US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system is the leading industry standard and measure for what constitutes a green building. From lowest to highest, rating system categories include certified, silver, gold and platinum. All UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay buildings will be LEED-certified with an overall rating goal of gold.

UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay is one of only six medical centers under development in California planning for LEED certification, and will be one of the largest LEED-certified hospital complexes in the world. The LEED certification level of the hospital complex will be determined as plans become finalized and will be enhanced by philanthropic donations pledged to the fundraising campaign in support of the medical center project.

Green Space

The extent of green space at the hospital complex will be among the highest of any urban hospital in the United States. 16 separate gardens are included in the hospital project plans for a total of 4.3 acres of green space. There will be 1.2 acres of rooftop gardens alone. Among these are therapeutic gardens that have been designed for the hospital complex terrace roofs at the third, fourth and fifth floors.

Each garden will feature a unique use and character with specific layout options tailored to address patient needs and hospital requirements, from the Women’s View garden to a Children’s Play Terrace and the ICN Strolling garden.

Green roof areas will not only offer garden spaces, they will also offer pleasant views from most of the patient rooms, reduce storm water runoff and support thermal building performance. Public spaces and landscaping will be designed as public amenities. Multiple plazas around campus will provide public outdoor space to foster neighborhood and public interaction.

Abundant Daylight and Fresh Air

Outdoor balconies and terraces will be integrated for patients, their families and staff to experience fresh air and sunlight from within every patient-care unit. Seventy-five percent of patient rooms will have northern or southern orientation, enabling them to receive direct sunlight during the day without glare. Patient-care areas will be configured to allow daylight and views into most of the workstations, resulting in a percentage of workstations with accessible daylight ranking among the best in US hospitals. The hospital complex has been designed to deliver 100 percent fresh outdoor air, instead of re-circulated air, to all spaces.

Healthy Materials

Today’s best intelligence regarding sustainable interior design will be applied in all patient rooms, including incorporation of “cradle-to-cradle” materials screening and selection to promote human and ecological health. (“Cradle-to-cradle” refers to the practice of using materials that can be perpetually circulated and reused, rather than disposed of.)

The medical center design team is leading the way in healthy materials research by completing an intelligent materials assessment. This assessment, based on specialized research that focuses on the chemical toxicity of certain materials, has never before been done in a hospital or in any project of this scale. The resulting selection criteria for patient-area interior finishes, for example, should result in the elimination of known toxins.

The Cost of Going Green

At its best, the process of designing sustainable, healthy buildings involves the integration and optimization of many aspects of building design: creative programming, careful clustering of uses, appropriate site selection, orientation for solar and wind access, quality envelope design, intelligent systems selection, attention to detail, and selection of materials. Many of these aspects have been incorporated into the hospital design with no additional cost premium because of early planning and the establishment of performance goals at the beginning of the design process.

More information on the eco-effective design of UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay is available in our Sustainability section.