This is a session review of the presentation from Amy Keller, M.Arch, EDAC and Anjali Joseph, Ph.D, EDAC, who are researchers with the Center for Health Design. Operating under a USGBC research grant, they have identified common metrics, developed a standard for collection, and then set out to develop industry benchmarks to establish a link between (surprise!) healthcare facility designs and their resulting impact on patients. We frequently focus on the economic return on investment when advocating for sustainable design, but this session supports the notion that benefits to human health and well-being can also be a powerful argument to convince skeptical clients to build sustainably.
Click the image to access the Ripple Database
Ultimately, all of their findings are housed in the Ripple Database, which is an open, freely accessible data sharing website that serves two primary functions. The first is to provide users with access to the studies so far. The second is to allow you to compare the differences in outcomes from two facilities with different design characteristics. From their explanations of individual case studies featured on the site I also learned that there is such a thing as the "Jersey Shore University Medical Center"... seriously, and a recent redesign reported very positive patient outcomes.
By the researchers own admission, the utility of the site is limited have due to a small set of data entry to work from (five facilities so far), buIt this is a new project and the information can only improve over time. The website hasn't even officially launched (planned for "first quarter 2011"), but you can go to the beta site now. Even in it's current state, investigating specific strategies yields an impressive wealth of outcomes at the case study level, and from there you can view abstracts of other peer reviewed research that further informs your efforts.
I'm personally extremely excited about this project, and would love to see it extended to other market sectors as well. I would strongly encourage anyone involved in healthcare facility design and construction to talk with their clients about the need to share their outcomes for the betterment of the industry at large. Get your projects in there ASAP!