Kaiser Permanente | LEED Saves Energy, Water and Money


  • First Kaiser Permanente hospital to receive Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design Gold certification
  • Will use 27 percent less energy than required by Oregon energy code
  • Will use 35 percent less water
  • 70 percent of power comes from clean energy
  • Built entirely using green power
  • Accomplished LEED gold for a net additional cost of $170,000, which is less than 1 percent of the medical center’s total cost of construction. Those additional up-front costs are expected to pay back fivefold in operational savings over the medical center’s lifetime.
  • Other outcomes: Demonstrating that building a sustainable hospital can be done with little added costs, Westside created a “business case” for Kaiser Permanente to commit to pursuing a minimum of LEED Gold for all new construction, potentially impacting 100 buildings over the next decade.

Case Study Overview

  • Total project cost:  $344 million
  • Sustainability and LEED-specific features total costs: $1,726,251
  • Sustainability costs after rebates: $927,277
  • LEED costs after rebates: $167,271
  • Net sustainability and LEED-specific features total costs after rebates: $1,094,548 million
  • Projected annual savings from combined sustainability and LEED features: $250,000/ year
  • Payback period of combined sustainability and LEED features: 5 years


Kaiser Permanente had long pursued green building strategies for construction and renovation of hospitals and medical offices, including construction waste recycling, healthy building materials, and energy conservation. However, there was a general perception that LEED was too expensive, and would delay schedules. 


Hospital leadership in the Northwest understood that Kaiser Permanente members in the Portland area, known to some as America’s “green capital,” valued environmental stewardship as much as state-of-the-art technology and design. With leadership’s support, the Westside project team hired Green Building Services to guide them through the LEED process. Because the decision to pursue LEED certification was made late in the design phase, the team discovered there would be added costs associated with LEED. Green Building Services helped the team earn $2 million in rebates from both the Oregon Energy Trust to offset some of the additional upfront costs.

Implementation Process

LEED points earned for:

  • Built on a “brownfield” site with local transit lines within ¼ mile
  • 100 percent green power during construction and operations
  • Zoned heating and cooling system that captures and converts exhaust air so it never leaves the buildings
  • Irrigation system captures and reuses rainwater to water native dry creek beds on campus and green screens on parking structure
  • Removed 95 percent of turf on site
  • More than 75 percent of construction waste recycled
  • Reflective roof
  • Solar-powered, energy-neutral parking structure
  • Access to natural daylight
  • Occupancy sensors and lighting controls
  • Low-emitting materials, including paints, adhesives, and finishes
  • Recycled building materials (more than 20 percent)
  • Local sourcing of building materials (more than 10 percent)
  • Earned Energy Trust of Oregon rebates for high-efficiency chillers,  boilers, and equipment 

Lessons Learned and Recommendations

Establish a clear sustainability vision early, and hire LEED-accredited design partners and consultants who can help get to LEED with no - or little - first costs. When LEED is included from the beginning as an integral part of the design process, the result is an environmentally responsible building at little added cost. 

Demographic information

The Kaiser Permanente Westside Medical Center is a 126-bed, acute-care hospital in Hillsboro, Ore.  It will be Kaiser Permanente’s 38th hospital when it opens to patients Aug. 6, 2013, and is the first new hospital in Oregon’s Washington County in 40 years.  

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