Newswise — The U.S. Green Building Council has awarded the Orthopedic Building at Rush University Medical Center Gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system and the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings.

The Orthopedic Building at Rush, located at the southwest corner of Ashland Avenue and Harrison Street (1611 W. Harrison Street), is a 220,000-square-foot medical office building that houses outpatient services for orthopedics and sports medicine. The building opened in December 2009, and is a component of the Rush Transformation, a comprehensive campus renovation project that includes construction of a new hospital building that will open in 2012.

LEED certification offers third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance across all the metrics that matter most: energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts. Projects can earn four levels of certification: certified, silver, gold or platinum.

“Achieving Gold LEED certification is a significant accomplishment. It is recognition of the leadership, innovation and sweat equity that Rush is demonstrating as a good steward of the planet,” said Joe DeVoss, assistant vice president, Rush Office of Transformation. “It is a rigorous process, but it is the right thing to do.”

The Orthopedic Building employs numerous energy-efficient and sustainable strategies including energy-efficient systems for lighting, heating and cooling. An extensive green roof restores 33 percent of the roof with adaptive vegetation and reduces the rate of storm water run-off by 25 percent. Permeable pavers in front of the building also reduce storm water run-off and have a high solar reflectivity to prevent heat absorption. These efforts combined with landscaping and high-reflective roofing reduce the “heat island” effect.

Recycled product for concrete, steel and ceilings was used during construction and half of the construction materials came from manufacturers within 500 miles of Chicago to reduce fuel for transportation and emissions. Low-flow plumbing fixtures, including dual-flush toilets and solar powered faucets, were installed throughout the building and the water-efficient landscaping design requires no irrigation system.

The health care industry is one of the largest users of energy and largest producers of waste. Hospitals use more than two times the energy of commercial office buildings.

“We are very excited to be among the health care and education leaders that are pushing the edge on LEED technology,” said Mick Zdeblick, vice president of operations, Rush Office of Transformation. “Health care is a very difficult industry to work within as it pertains to energy efficiency, sustainability and other LEED design type issues. Gold LEED on the Orthopedic Build is just the beginning for this campus.”

Rush is also seeking gold LEED certification for the new hospital building, a 14-story 841,000 square-foot in-patient building currently under construction across the street from the Orthopedic Building. The new hospital building and the Orthopedic Building are the largest components of the Rush Transformation, the most comprehensive construction and facilities renovation program in Rush's more than 170-year history. Only four hospitals in the country currently are Gold LEED certified and fewer than 100 nationwide have LEED certification

The Orthopedic Building at Rush is the first health care project in Chicago to receive Gold LEED for Core & Shell, a green building rating system for designers, builders, developers and new building owners who want to address sustainable design for new core and shell construction. Core and shell covers base building elements such as structure, envelope and the HVAC system.

It encourages the implementation of green design and construction practices in areas over which the developer has control and works to set up a synergistic relationship, which allows future tenants to capitalize on green strategies implemented by the developer.

“We're especially proud of this project since the original target was LEED Silver. The design team and contractor worked together, putting in extra effort to reach this gold certification,” said Michelle Halle Stern, Sustainability Specialist, Perkins+Will.

Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush, the private practice medical group whose 38 physicians are on the Rush faculty, has its clinical facilities and physician offices in the new Orthopedic Building.

The building features 60 examination rooms, six x-ray and imaging suites, an imaging center with CT and two MRIs, full-service physical and occupational therapy facilities, orthotics and prosthetic services, and research facilities of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery. These include laboratories for Human Motion Analysis, Biomechanics, Tribology (the study of friction, lubrication and wear) and Implant Retrieval.

Plans are under way for physicians and scientists in three clinical areas to move into the fifth floor of the Orthopedic Building between May and July. These include University Rheumatologists; Communication Disorders and Sciences, including Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology; and Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery.

Perkins+Will, an integrated design firm, is designing the new hospital and other structures that are part of the Rush Transformation. Pepper Construction is the firm serving as construction manager on the Orthopedic Building. Powers/Jacobs is the firm serving as construction manager on the Rush Transformation.

For more information about the sustainable practices Rush is implementing. Visit the Rush News blog at

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