A new report released by the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA), with the New Zealand Green Building Council (NZGBC) has revealed the triple benefits of Green Star-rated health facilities.

Following a review of national and international healthcare facilities, the report titled ‘The case for sustainable healthcare’ lists out better patient outcomes, improved productivity and reduced ongoing energy costs as the primary benefits of green-certified health facilities.

Challenging the healthcare industry to step up, GBCA CEO Romilly Madew says there were demonstrated benefits from sustainable buildings, and hospital patients and vital healthcare workers deserved better.

“We know patients and workers in Green Star-certified buildings report higher health and productivity. This can lead to faster patient recovery times, increased employee satisfaction and lower staff turnover, as well as lower ongoing energy costs. The positives are too big to ignore.”

Referring to the 10 percent and growing healthcare share of GDP – about $170 billion in 2015-2016 – Madew said that vital funds should be used to deliver the most efficient healthcare infrastructure possible.

“Green buildings have proven cost benefits, in addition to the improvements for patients and workers.”

Less than one per cent of more than 2,000 Green Star-rated buildings across Australia are in the healthcare sector; however, sick people, doctors and nurses should also be able to benefit from a healthy sustainable environment as office workers do, says Madew.

‘The case for sustainable healthcare’ report was sponsored by NAB, which is supporting the transition to a low carbon economy through a commitment to provide $55 billion dollars in environmental finance by 2025.

Several hospitals that are seeing the benefits of Green Star-rated buildings find mention in the report. These include the New South Wing of Flinders Medical Centre in South Australia, a five-star Green Star-certified building that saved $400,000 a year thanks to a solar-heated hot water system and reduced water consumption by 20 percent through rainwater harvesting; Austin Hospital’s Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre, the first Green Star-certified healthcare project in Victoria, which no longer uses potable water for irrigation because of its 120,000 litre rainwater storage facility; and Queensland’s newly opened $1.8bn Sunshine Coast University Hospital, which is tipped to operate at 40 percent lower peak energy demand by 2021.

New Zealand’s Forte Health Building in Christchurch also reported strong tenant and patient satisfaction.

Patient benefits from green buildings include a 15 percent faster recovery for people with depression when they were cared for in facilities with natural sunlight; a 30 percent drop in medical errors in better designed rooms; and a 41 percent shorter average stay for patients in sunny rooms compared to those without access to natural light.