Assisted Living Goes Green with New LEED Certification

Members | July 26, 2011

Up until now, it has been difficult for assisted living communities and nursing homes to receive Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. A new LEED for Health Care rating system could change that.

Your next assisted living community could carry the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) seal of approval, thanks to a new version of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification system released in April 2011. LEED for Health Care can now be applied to new construction and major renovations of assisted living communities and licensed nursing homes.  

LEED for Health Care is based on the USGBC’s original LEED New Construction (NC) certification, which provides independent, third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built to:

  • Lower operating costs and increase asset value.
  • Reduce waste sent to landfills.
  • Conserve energy and water.
  • Be healthier and safer for occupants.
  • Reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

Many LEED-certified buildings qualify for tax rebates, zoning allowances and other incentives in hundreds of cities.

USGBC modified the original LEED NC program to acknowledge the unique challenges that assisted living communities, nursing homes and other care facilities face when pursuing sustainable design. Unlike most commercial buildings seeking NC certification, for example, care facility are highly regulated and they are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, says USGBC.

In addition, these buildings typically use energy, water and chemicals intensively and they are required to implement a variety of infection control measures. USGBC modified some existing LEED New Construction requirements and created a number of new, health care-related requirements to address these challenges.