top of page

Sustainable Healthcare

On this Project:


Nicole Campion


Evidence-Based Hospital Design of the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC

The link between building design and human health can be difficult to quantify, though studies have utilized metrics related to worker productivity, indoor air quality, and occupant perception of the building (Kats, Alevantis et al. 2003; Ries, Bilec et al. 2006; Seppänen and Fisk 2006; Loftness, Hakkinen et al. 2007; Wiik 2011).  As green buildings become more common in the US, it is important to understand the building’s link to human health, as well as the building’s post-occupancy performance relative to design expectations (Needy, Gokhan et al. 2007).  This is especially true as the healthcare industry begins to design and build green hospitals (Pradinuk 2009; U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) 2009; U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) 2011).

In 2009, Children’s Hospital of UPMC (Children’s) moved into a LEED-certified facility in the Lawrenceville neighborhood of Pittsburgh, PA, demolishing the existing hospital, constructed on the Oakland site in 1926.  Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh partnered with Children’s in 2006 to conduct a comparative longitudinal assessment of the two hospitals to determine the effects of holistic and sustainable hospital design.  This study statistically compares metrics of expenses, productivity, quality of care, staff satisfaction, and utilities between the old hospital and the new, LEED-certified hospital.  Results show no significant statistical difference in Children’s total expenditures, a 10% increase in staff direct care hours, a 5% increase in employee tenure, and a 25-50% drop in turnover and position vacancies in the new LEED-certified facility. Additionally, despite a 300% increase in square footage of the hospital and updates to hospital performance in relation to building codes, utility consumption rates for electricity, water, and gas have actually decreased by nearly 60% per square foot.

Associated Publications

Campion, N., Thiel, C.L., Focareta, J., Bilec, M.M. (2016). "Understanding Green Building Design & Healthcare Outcomes: An Evidence Based Design Analysis of an Oncology Unit." ASCE Journal of Architectural Engineering. 04016009.


Thiel C., Needy, K., Reis, R., Hupp, D., Bilec M. (2014) “Building Design and Performance: A Comparative Longitudinal Assessment of a Green Children’s Hospital.” Building and Environment. 78(0), 130-6.


Bilec, M. M., Geary, M., Ries, R. J., Needy, K. L., & Cashion, M. (2010). “A method for quantifying the benefits of greening a healthcare facility.” Engineering Management Journal, 22(3), 3-11.


Bilec, M.M., Needy, R., Gokhan, N.M., Ries, R., Horman, M., Phelps, A.F., Enache-Pommer, E., Little, S., McGregor, B., and Sheane, C. (2009).  “Analysis of the Design Process of Green Children’s Hospitals: Focus on Process Mapping and Lessons Learned.” Journal of Green Building, (4) 1, 121-134.

bottom of page