Sustainable Building Materials for Green Healthcare Facilities

Sustainable Building Materials for Green Healthcare Facilities

Posted by Todd Gillman on Jun 25th 2024

Sustainability is a primary concern in the contemporary construction landscape. Buildings must be energy efficient and long-lasting to help limit the resources consumed over their lifetime. This is particularly important in healthcare facilities, as clean, emission-free buildings play a critical role in personal health. With this in mind, keep reading as we explore circular building materials that can aid in creating net-zero healthcare facilities.

Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF)

Sustainability of a healthcare facility starts with the bones. If the foundation and framing are suspect, everything else will stand little chance of success. With this in mind, one of the premier framing solutions for promoting sustainability is insulated concrete forms (ICF). There are numerous sustainability benefits of ICF, including:

  • Improved R-value - ICF frames are some of the most insulative in the industry, ensuring that heat is not transferred through the building walls.
  • Mold, rot, fire, and pest resistant - ICF framing is resistant to mold, rot, and pest damage, helping guarantee its ongoing structural integrity.
  • Fully recyclable - although ICF framing is extremely long-lasting, it is fully recyclable in the event that the building ever goes out of use.

In addition, ICF framing comes in precast blocks. These blocks are locked in place at the construction site. Concrete is then poured into the blocks to create a solid, airtight framing solution. The ease of erection requires less machinery when building ICF walls than other framing types, helping create energy efficiency in the construction process.

Epoxy Terrazzo Floors

Few types of commercial floors will see the kind of traffic that healthcare facilities do. There is a constant flow of wheelchairs, beds, and carts. Epoxy terrazzo floors are the best option for withstanding this type of traffic. Using marble, quartz, granite, and/or glass with an epoxy matrix binder, they are a durable, nonporous flooring material that will stand the test of time. They can be fabricated in a number of attractive designs that help promote interior aesthetics for a favorable healthcare ambience.

Durable Fixtures

Healthcare facilities see thousands of people come and go each day. As some of these visitors are immunocompromised, it is essential that hygiene and cleanliness are prioritized to the fullest. Items such as doorknobs and handrail materials must have a durable fabrication, such as stainless steel, to withstand frequent cleanings while maintaining their aesthetics. In addition, it is important to automate all toilets and sinks. Not only will this conserve water, but it limits points of contact through which germs can be spread.

Recycled Steel

Steel transformed urban America in the 19th century and remains an integral component of the commercial construction landscape to this day. In addition to its unmatched strength and longevity, steel is also a fully recyclable product. Recycled steel can be used in beams, girders, roofing, and cladding. As steel-framed structures can span long distances without the need for vertical support structures, it is one of the best materials for creating open interiors. Open interiors are beneficial for their increased natural light flow and ease of customization.

Low VOC Products

When exposed to pressure, VOCs (volatile organic compounds) release small particles into the ambient air. These VOC vapors can cause eye, throat, and nose irritation. Other symptoms include headaches and nausea. There is even some evidence that certain VOCs are carcinogenic. While VOCs are not desirable in any type of building, they are particularly problematic in healthcare facilities. VOCs are found in many synthetic building materials, such as vinyl, upholstery, foam, cellulose insulation, and many types of caulks and adhesives. To guarantee indoor air quality at a healthcare facility, choose natural building materials whenever possible. Wood, stone, and ceramics are some great examples of low-VOC products. When painting, staining, and sealing, be sure to choose materials that fall under a safe VOC threshold.


Speaking of low-VOC building materials, bamboo is one of the most exciting natural building materials on the market. It can be used in many of the same applications as wood. This makes it a great choice for flooring, paneling, and furniture. However, bamboo is grown and harvested in a fraction of time regular timber. It can also be densely grown on small plots. This makes it one of the least resource-intensive building materials available in terms of preparation and cultivation.

Rooftop Gardens

Rooftop gardens, or green roofs, are one of the most exciting innovations in the sustainable building landscape. In place of regular roofing materials, they feature a layer of vegetation as the surface material. This can help insulate the interior of the building while lowering ambient air temperatures by as much as 5 degrees. Rooftop gardens also have exciting potential in the realm of stormwater runoff management and counteracting greenhouse gas emissions.

Building for the Future with Green Healthcare Facilities

Sustainability is a hot-button issue in modern construction. Structures must be durable and energy efficient to reduce their carbon footprint. This is especially important in healthcare facilities, where environmental health and personal health go hand in hand. For more of the latest trends in the contemporary healthcare landscape, explore the resources at Omnimed for the leading insights in the industry.

Author Bio:

Todd Gillman is a freelance writer that loves sharing his knowledge and expertise on residential and commercial real estate. He lives in Land O’ Lakes, Florida where he enjoys spending time with his wife and researching real estate trends in his free time. Todd’s work as a freelance writer can be found on Building Product Advisor, a construction industry resource site.