The Pepper Hospice Home and Center for Care in Barrington, IL, one of the few "green" hospice facilities in the country, is set to open July 1. Built by Hospice and Palliative Care of Northeastern Illinois for approximately $19 million, it is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified. The 42,000-square-foot building houses 16 patient rooms and the non-profit agency's administrative offices. LEED certification added 3.9 percent to its overall construction costs, but hospice officials estimate that long-term savings will repay the investment within 10 years. LEED is the rating system that measures the environmental friendliness of constructed buildings. Support for the hospice facility came from grants and donations, including environmental grants from the state and from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation.
An article and photos in the Daily Herald portray an open house held at the new facility on June 15. A grant opening celebration is planned for June 27. Architecturally designed to have a minimal carbon footprint in the surrounding woodland area, with drought- and deer-resistant landscaping and rain collection barrrels and the use of solar lighting, recyling and renewable energy resources, the building also has the kinds of homelike, patient-friendly features associated with other freestanding hospice facilities. Its "healing garden" is accessible from the relatively spacious patient rooms, which also include foldout couches for family visitors.
Some might say the main focus of a hospice inpatient or residential facility should be solely on the patient's comfort and quality of life, along with any applicable health facility codes and laws. But perhaps quality of life could be defined more broadly to include tending to the environment and, ultimately, the health of the planet. At the Barrington facility, patients will be able to engage in gardening or simply bask in the sun and fresh air. A quick web search identified a few other North American hospice facilities going down a similar path.
Last fall another green-certified hospice building was said to be under development by Cedars of Monroeville, an assisted living facility in Monroeville, PA, with 16 private rooms, overnight accommmodations for loved ones, a chapel, spa and massage area, and two-story waterfall in the lobby. Facilities also include bike racks, a reflective roof, use of recycled material and preferred parking for fuel-efficient vehicles. Safe Harbor Hospice of Fredericktown, MO, includes environmental awareness practices in every aspect of its business day, with energy-conserving offices, recycling of all recyclable products, higher mileage company cars and hospice home service routes streamlined for gas efficiency. Ian Anderson Hospice in Halton Hills, Ontario, recently went green with solar panels, with the goal of reducing its carbon footprint and saving on the costs of propane for heating the facility and its water. According to insideHalton.com, the six solar panels are a step in the hospice's Project Green, launched in 2009.