Medical center reaches LEED Platinum status

Located in Austin, the Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas is the first healthcare facility in the world to achieve a LEED Platinum certification by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).


Located in Austin, the Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas is the first healthcare facility in the world to achieve a LEED Platinum certification by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The 503,000 sq-ft medical center, set on a 32-acre campus, opened in July 2007 and is part of the Seton Family of Hospitals.

In 2005, Seton's team of MEP engineers and general contractors set out to achieve USGBC's LEED Platinum certification for the healthcare facility. Alan Bell, AIA, Seton's LEED AP director of Design & Construction, said, “Though we began to open portions of this 169-bed facility in mid-2007, we received the official LEED Platinum certification in early 2009. To achieve this goal, we were rated in the six key LEED categories: Sustainable Site development, Water Efficiency, Energy & Atmosphere (EA), Materials and Resources, Indoor Air Quality, and Innovation & Design.” Of the 69 total possible points, Seton and Siemens Building Technologies collaborated to earn a total of 54 points.


A key component to the Dell Children's Medical Center achieving the LEED designation was attaining the points associated with Energy & Atmosphere and IAQ. Central to this aspect of the project was the implementation of the BAS. BAS implementation helped achieve two of three LEED prerequisites in the EA category (Fundamental Building Systems Commissioning and Minimum Energy Performance). The control technology and its proper integration were also an essential part of achieving five other EA points. Of the 17 total points in this category, the hospital received 14 points.


BAS and control are essential contributors to another key LEED category, IAQ. For Dell Children's Hospital, the BAS helped achieve one of the two prerequisites—Minimum IAQ Performance, as well as the acquisition of 4 of 11 total points—enough points in this category to anchor this portion for Platinum certification.


IAQ is a critical aspect of the interior environment within a hospital. In the pursuit of LEED in the category, 15 points are available. The BAS was central to achieving one of the two prerequisites (Minimum IAQ Performance) and its associated control, monitoring, and reporting of the interior (and exterior) air. Seton achieved 11 of 15 total points, with CO2 monitoring, Controllability of Systems, Thermal Comfort as it applies to ASHRAE 55-1992, and Thermal Comfort, Permanent Monitoring System.


In conjunction with general contractor White Construction of Austin, Seton selected BAS supplier Siemens Building Technologies to install and integrate the solution across the new facility. On the technology side, Siemens delivered its APOGEE suite of building automation and controls as part of an overall building system and energy management solution that also included fire detection, alarm, and emergency air handling system control.


Controlling the data

Siemens APOGEE BAS provides the data-handling capability necessary to properly monitor building systems and automate complex control functions. The BAS monitors the incumbent operating conditions of energy-intensive systems including the facility's underfloor air distribution, hot water generators, outside-air conditioning, data center cooling units, as well as myriad pumps, fans, and critical fire/life safety and smoke purge systems. The BAS also monitors the heating of the 15,000-gal therapy pool.


The APOGEE BAS is configured to alarm in the event that any equipment fails or ambient conditions stray from required setpoints, such as the operation of critical air handler unit fans, or operating/isolation room environmental conditions. The Siemens BAS closely monitors and controls the conditioning and use of outside air, as well as detecting and adjusting air-handling devices based on the predetermined night setback and other occupancy conditions. Because the hospital runs around the clock, the system's responsiveness is vital to overall performance and energy efficiency levels.


Each of the on-site facilities engineers at the hospital can be notified in real time if a problem occurs. Siemens' remote paging and notification software allows the operators to immediately receive alarms and monitoring points via cell phones or pagers. Access and control are further facilitated through virtual private network access via the Internet or through PDA-style devices.


Load management is critical at all healthcare facilities like Dell Children's Hospital. Unique for the site is a combined heating and power (CHP) plant that serves the electricity, chilled water, and steam needs of the entire campus. The 4.5-MW natural gas turbine-powered CHP supplies all the electricity, chilled water, and steam required by the facility, making it more than twice as efficient as an equivalent coal-fired plant. The BAS automatically trends utility data regularly. With this historical data, facility managers can track costs and troubleshoot equipment operating out of normal ranges, such as power spikes during a given period. The facility owner conducted extensive design versus actual load assessments on all energy consuming systems, from electric to chilled water and steam, using the Siemens BAS monitoring capability and historical database. A 32% drop in total energy use was recorded in the facility's first year of operation, despite higher than normal temperatures in Austin during the period.


The overall building rating went from 17.2% to 61% above the applicable ASHRAE 90.1 energy efficiency standard for facilities of this type based on the efficiency of the CHP. Lastly, the CHP provides 46% more primary energy use than the conventional grid-to-substation-to-hospital power service model. The two local substations provide backup power to the hospital while an on-site emergency generator provides a third backup for all life/safety systems at the hospital.


Information provided by Siemens







The Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas, located in Austin, is the first healthcare facility in the world to receive a LEED Platinum certification.




Contractor White Construction of Austin and Siemens Building Technologies helped the Seton staff meet LEED Platinum certification by integrating the APOGEE suite of BAS from Siemens Building Technologies. The BAS helped monitor the following systems at the hospital:




  • Underfloor air distribution

  • Hot water generators

  • Outside air conditioning

  • Data center cooling units

  • Pumps and fans

  • Fire/life safety and smoke purge systems.



The BAS from Siemens helped the 169-bed facility earn 54 out of 69 possible LEED points.




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