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New cancer center at Hillcrest built to be green

PITTSFIELD — Construction is currently underway at the Hillcrest campus of Berkshire Medical Center (BMC) in Pittsfield for a state-of-the-art new cancer center, to be operated by BMC with the plan to have physicians from Berkshire Hematology/Oncology join the BMC practice in the new facility. While the renovation phase of the project may not be all that glamorous, it is a phase where many careful decisions are made, including some to ensure the end result will be at least a little bit green.

From energy efficient LED light fixtures to recycled flooring product, the new cancer center is being designed to a green building standard.

According to Berkshire Health Systems (BHS) Facilities Director Joe LaRoche and Director of Media Relations Michael Leary, any BHS construction project over the past several years has been implemented in accordance with U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) green building guidelines.

These guidelines are part of a rating system called LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), which USGBC uses to certify buildings at several different levels based on various categories, such as energy and atmosphere, water efficiency, and materials and resources.

“For every construction project we do and have done for the past several years…we incorporate the LEED principles and guidelines in all of that construction,” said Leary.

“Typically we like to do our bid documents, prepare all of the scope of work documents, to reflect a level of efficiency standpoint and from a USGBC standpoint at the silver level of LEED,” explained LaRoche.

Silver is the second of four levels in the LEED system. Another BHS owned and operated building – the new Crane Center for Ambulatory Surgery located on Park Street – is LEED silver qualified, according to LaRoche. He said they have already applied to USGBC for certification for that building.

The new cancer center at Hillcrest, he explained, will not be eligible for LEED certification because the construction involves renovating an existing building.

“Existing buildings often, like this one, don’t have the ability to qualify because of the envelope of the building,” said LaRoche. If it were eligible, he said at this point it would qualify for the basic level certification.

Energy saving measures implemented

Energy saving utilities and materials have been integrated throughout the 45,000 square-foot facility.

Lighting is provided by high efficiency LED fixtures. The dimmable LED lights – which are 70 percent more efficient than standard incandescent bulbs – operate on motion sensors. If the room is unoccupied, the lights dim, and they turn on when someone enters the room.

LED lighting is used in other BMC facilities, such as the employee parking deck located at the main hospital on North Street. Installing these LED lights in the garage results in huge savings over the typical sodium halide fixture. “The energy consumption is about 30 percent of what a typical sodium halide light fixture is, so for us the payback is less than two years,” said LaRoche. “When you have a 600-car parking garage, that’s a lot of savings there.

He said that when they renovate an existing building like the one at Hillcrest, they aim to save on utilities cost in the long run. “Our expectation is that we’re going to target 30 to 40 percent in utility savings from what was previously here,” he explained.

In terms of heating/cooling, the building will have automated climate control programmed electronically through a building management system. According to LaRoche, this system, which is physically located in the Plant Operations Department in the main hospital building, has been expanded to include the new cancer center building.

Computer-programmed occupancy sensors will automatically monitor the inside and outside temperatures and adjust the inside temperature accordingly. If there’s no difference between inside and outside temperature, the computer shuts down the mechanical heating/cooling system and allows fresh air from outside to come in through filtration vents. “The machines shut off all of the required mechanical cooling and all we do is bring in the outside air,” said LaRoche.

Besides automatically shutting down the mechanical cooling, the building management system cuts energy usage through the very gradual startup of system motors in the early morning. At the start of the day to prepare for occupancy, the system ramps up slowly using a control called variable frequency drives. By ensuring the system revs up gradually, this control adds to the building’s overall energy efficiency.

Some of that overall efficiency comes from the window glass. As LaRoche pointed out, the windows were replaced with new, energy-efficient glass designed to keep the heat in during winter and out during summer.

Recycled material and water-saving fixtures used

Recycled material is used in the wall covering and flooring throughout the building. One type of flooring product in the building, for example, is simulated wood made from recycled vinyl. This vinyl flooring has better insulating properties and requires much less maintenance compared to real wood.

The building also features water-saving plumbing fixtures designed to cut water flow in half – from 3 gallons per minute on a standard fixture down to 1.5 gallons per minute on these fixtures. Dual flush toilet setting adds even more to water savings, as a quick flush rapidly recycles water through.

BHS standard practice for construction

Although the $30 million new cancer center won’t be LEED certified, it still incorporates energy saving measures wherever possible, a standard practice for Berkshire Health Systems construction projects.

“In this type of building, even though we aren’t submitting it to USGBC for that certification because we realize that we’re not eligible based on the envelope of the building being existing and the brick and mortar not being qualified, we use it for our own purposes to number one be green and number two be energy efficient,” said LaRoche.

“It’s our guidepost,” added Leary.

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Posted by on September 19, 2013. Filed under Community News,News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry
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