Marin’s $535M ‘spa-like’ sustainable hospital breaks ground

When patients check in to the new Marin General Hospital in 2020, it's possible they might mistake it for a spa.

With floor-to-ceiling windows, green spaces, private rooms, and integrative services, the half-billion-dollar facility was designed with patient and staff comfort levels as one of its priorities, plus use of materials, construction process and design to meet high environmental standards.

“It's going to be an environment with the most sophisticated medical technology in a healing and spa-like environment,” said Lee Domanico, the hospital's CEO.

Groundbreaking took place July 28 on phase one of the new $535 million project, which will feature two, four-story towers, with 260,000 square feet of space, and 114 private beds. It will house critical services including the emergency room, operating rooms, and intensive care unit. The project also includes a parking structure, which has already been completed.

The construction site is adjacent to the old hospital, which will partly be used for office space. Plans for the building also include renovation of the West Wing, which will provide the hospital a total of 171 private rooms, 22 of which can accommodate an extra bed in case of an emergency.

Phase two of the expansion will include a five-story, 100,000-square-foot ambulatory services building, and another parking structure. The start date of this phase is still undetermined.

The new facilities, designed by Perkins Eastman, international architects with an office in Los Angeles, will feature larger operating rooms and an emergency department with increased diagnostic and treatment capabilities. This is expected to allow for more efficient service and shorter wait times.

The hospital will be a place where “tranquility matters,” Domanico said. Adding to patient privacy, the hospital design calls for two corridors, one front and one back-of-the-house, so patients can be wheeled to different departments away from the public. There will be no overhead paging.

The project is designed to maximize natural light inside via skylights, and each patient room will feature floor-to-ceiling windows with views of Mount Tam, the grounds or rooftop gardens. Each room will also accommodate patients' families with special space.

“The hospital will have an indoor-outdoor feel to promote healing, and solariums at each corner of the building. It will be more spa-like and less clinical,” said Jason Haim, principal and board director with Perkins Eastman, an international planning, design and consulting firm with an office in Los Angeles. “It will be the hospital of the future right in Marin's backyard.”

The hospital was also designed with a focus on safety, flexible design, advanced technology, and environmental sustainability.

The new facility will be silver-certified under the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program, which recognizes projects with environmentally sustainable construction and operation. LEED is a comprehensive system of interrelated standards, covering aspects from the design and construction to the maintenance and operation of buildings. It is a green building certification programs used worldwide.

The Marin hospital board has mandated a silver level or higher, and Domanico said they are moving in the direction of gold.

LEED certification can be earned at different levels by meeting different numbers of sustainable features. Basic LEED Healthcare certification requires that projects meet between 40 and 49 points; silver certification requires between 50 and 59 points; gold requires 60-79; and platinum requires buildings meet at least 80 points. Other LEED health facilities in the North Bay include the $292 million Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital, and Kaiser Permanente has a platinum-certified data center in Napa.

One of the sustainable design priorities was to construct the exterior with high performance glass and sunshades that will drive down the mechanical need to cool the building.

“It will absolutely be a gorgeous building. Aesthetically, the materials used to construct the hospital building will tie the entire campus as one element. The glass will provide for a clean, timeless, beautiful building,” Haim said.

The quality of air indoors will be free of volatile organic compounds (VOC's) that give off toxic gas in carpeting, paint, and sealants, and energy and water consumption will be reduced with LED lights throughout, water efficient shower heads and low-flow toilets. The landscape will also be planted with a scheme for low water requirements.

Further, the hospital buildings will be constructed with recycled materials where possible, and wood from sustainable sources.

“It's not just about the product but also where you got it. Contractors are sourcing locally and tracking it (for LEED certification) to prove it's more sustainable,” Haim said.

The completed parking structure is tucked into a hillside with photovoltaic panels on the roof to convert sunlight into energy for the facility. Charging stations have been installed in compliance with county regulations. The structure was also designed for maximum natural ventilation, which will save a tremendous amount of power, Haim said, instead of having to run a ventilator.

The parking structure can also filter stormwater, so dirty water won't be cycled back into the system.

The decision to build a new hospital building was motivated by a need to comply with the latest seismic safety structural codes. The West Wing, which was built in the 1980s and is seismically outfitted, will be remodeled with a new lobby. The East Wing, built in the 1950s, will house office space and not be utilized for patient care.

The hospital is set to be open during construction, and work is being designed so that it does not affect ambulance access to the emergency department, though current public routes to the hospital may be changed during the project.

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