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New St. Paul’s Hospital: leading the way in more sustainable health care

A rendering of the new St. Paul's Hospital.

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Original story posted on PHC Connect (internal newsletter) by Justine Ma, Senior Communications and Engagement Specialist, New St. Paul’s Hospital Project.

​The new St. Paul’s Hospital will be a game-changer in B.C, enhancing the way health care is delivered while also addressing the challenges posed by climate change.

When the hospital opens in 2027, it will be a LEED-certified building, an internationally recognized green-building standard.

But the hospital’s sustainability efforts extend far beyond certification requirements, surpassing even the stringent benchmarks set by the City of Vancouver for sustainable site design, access to nature, green mobility, zero-waste planning, and low-carbon energy use.

We aimed not just for compliance, but for true leadership in green and resilient design,” says Molly Leathem, project manager with the New St. Paul’s Hospital Project Team.

“For example, the new St. Paul’s will be built five meters above the sea-level rise predicted by the year 2100 so it can continue operating in the event of a major flood. We’ve also designed our mechanical systems for air quality and cooling based on temperatures predicted by the year 2080. From conception to construction, every decision is guided by our dedication to building a resilient hospital that minimizes our ecological footprint.”


Minimizing environmental impact​

Indoor spaces, like the main entrance atrium, will use ultra-low emitting formaldehyde composite wood products to reduce harmful toxins.

It’s estimated Canadian health care systems contribute 4.6% of greenhouse gas emissions from lighting, cooling and heating hospitals, single-use medical items such as syringes, and other standard practices used in health care facilities.

At the new St. Paul’s Hospital, every design and construction detail is aimed at either maximizing efficiency or minimizing environmental impact.

“We’re implementing innovative technologies like heat-recovery chillers to reduce energy demands, and sustainable waste-management practices to divert construction debris from landfills,” says Molly. “Our team has explored opportunities at every turn to ensure we’re doing our part to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.”

Here are a few other examples:

  • a window-to-wall ratio designed to reduce energy consumption while maximizing natural light
  • advanced meters and analytics to track and identify energy savings
  • building materials and finishes selected to reduce waste
  • waste heat will be recaptured and reused from building exhaust and heat-generating equipment to reduce emissions and energy consumption

Promoting greener commutes and wellness​

The new campus will feature a welcoming civic plaza for public gatherings and landscaping with drought-tolerant, low maintenance plants and native species.

Promoting greener commutes and wellness are integral parts of the hospital’s vision for sustainability. The campus is designed to make all modes of travel safe, convenient, comfortable, and fun for people of all ages and abilities, reflecting the City of Vancouver’s goals outlined in the Transportation 2040 Plan.

Here are ways our new campus will foster a culture of eco-friendly transportation and wellness:

  • designated bike lanes to integrate into nearby City cycling routes
  • 100+ electric car charging stations in the hospital’s underground parkade
  • a 24/7 safe and secure Cycling Centre for staff which has capacity for 200 bikes, plus lockers, showers and washrooms
  • maximizes access to public transit, with Main Street – Science World SkyTrain and the Pacific Central rail station only a five-minute walk away
  • a Wellness Walkway encircling the campus with paths that celebrate the site’s rich cultural history and link to the surrounding community
  • 200 trees planted on site to provide shade, reduce surface heat and offset carbon emissions
  • plants chosen by a knowledge keeper and ethnobotanist from Squamish Nation to honour the Host Nations and Indigenous patients who use the hospital

We recognize taking an earth-friendly approach to health care is key to our well-being, our communities and our planet,” says Molly. “We’re hopeful the new St. Paul’s Hospital will pave the way for a greener, healthier future for generations to come.”

If you have a question about this work or the New St. Paul’s Hospital Project email .