Effects of Climate Change on Healthcare

Speaker: David S. Burson, ALA, Senior Project Manager, Partners Healthcare

Resiliency and Climate Change Adaptation Measures: The New Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Boston Massachusetts (Mr. David S. Burson, AIA; Senior Project Manager, Partners HealthCare, Boston, MA, USA)

Mr. Burson will provide an overview of the new Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, which opened in April 2013 on a waterfront site on Boston Harbor, with emphasis on site planning and facility design measures taken to achieve climate resiliency standards.  The construction of this new LEED Gold certified hospital incorporates sustainability, energy efficiency and passive survivability in anticipation of climate change impacts over the life of the building.  Research on recent and future climate change risks, including lessons learned from Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina and data on sea level rise projections for the Boston area, informed development decisions that prioritize safety for staff, patients and visitors.  Examples of how the site and facility were designed to mitigate climate change impacts include:

  • Elevation of ground level occupancy above the current 100 year flood elevations and anticipated sea level rise over the next century;
  • Strategic placement of emergency generators, cogeneration unit and primary electrical switchgear on the roof of the building;
  • Location of building garage vents and subsurface areaway sills above flood elevations;
  • Construction of the landscape perimeter to provide storm surge barriers in an extreme weather event;
  • Incorporation of operable window systems throughout the facility to ensure patient comfort and safety.

The resilient design of the new Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital allows it to take full advantage of its harborfront location on a former brownfield site, providing therapy gardens and dining terraces, adaptive water sports programming, aquatic therapy pools and an environmental learning center for the benefit of both the hospital community and the surrounding neighborhood.

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