Excerpted from http://www.bizjournals.com/mobile/baltimore/print-edition/2011/04/22/mercy-medical-raises-roof-with-green.html

Mercy Medical raises roof with green building

Take a stroll atop Mercy Medical Center’s roof this spring and you’ll encounter a peaceful atmosphere of blooming plum-colored coral bells and red maple trees tucked away in an urban oasis.

Possibly the most unique feature of Mercy’s new downtown Baltimore hospital, called the Mary Catherine Bunting Center, is its roof, which is — literally — green. Mercy installed 17,500 square feet of rooftop gardens, totaling about $1 million, in three different locations on its roof.

In an age when the price of health care keeps going up, hospitals are doing everything they can to cut costs. But for Mercy, keeping expenses down has gone hand in hand with doing more things that positively impact the environment — and the hospital’s patients. …

Judy Weiland, senior vice president of property management, said the gardens not only provide a healing and calming environment for patients and staff but also help to reduce energy.

“The impact it has is that it requires less cooling and heating of the interior space,” Weiland said.

Weiland said the hospital expects to reduce heating and cooling costs by 10 to 15 percent, a significant impact for a hospital, which is constantly in operation providing around-the-clock care. The gardens also extend the typical lifespan of a roof by two or three times. …

Other green design features Mercy used in its new center are large windows, fluorescent or compact fluorescent lighting, water conserving plumbing fixtures, hot water recirculation and non-chemical cooling tower water treatment.

To save on electricity costs, Mercy built large windows that would let in large amounts of natural light.

“Not only does natural lighting save energy and reduce costs, but it has a positive psychological effect on patients and our staff,” Weiland said.

For places that don’t have as much natural light, the hospital turned to fluorescent or compact fluorescent bulbs, which require less electricity than standard ones.

When building its hospital, Mercy decided to use 27,500 tons of concrete from an old parking facility that was imploded instead of buying new concrete for the Bunting Center. This saved the hospital thousands of dollars in costs. The hospital also selected many of its building materials including brick, glass and metal from regional sources.

Aside from the bricks and mortar, Mercy is also doing plenty of things on the inside of its new hospitals to be green.

It is using green, or sustainable, cleaning chemicals to cut down on the smell and toxicity of cleaning substances.

In the hospital’s cafeteria, organic milk

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with no hormones and local produce is available to patients, visitors and staff members.

In the long term, Mercy is working on its composting and recycling efforts. It has increased its recycled materials from 19 percent to 21 percent in just one year and is recycling frying grease from the hospital’s kitchen.

Another goal for the hospital is to phase out mercury completely from various products it uses such as blood pressure monitors, light bulbs and thermostats.

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See Mercy Medical Center’s TV ad “with three levels of Eco-friendly roof top gardens” : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvrIgiay4Qk