Location Austin, TX
Size 86,204 ft²
Completed 2013
Program 72 patient rooms, rehabilitation units, and other medical facilities


Owner Seton Healthcare Family
Architect Polkinghorn Group Architects
General Contractor Beck Group
LEED Consultant Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems
MEP Engineers CCRD


Certification LEED Platinum (expected)
Site Brownfield site, outdoor healing garden
Materials Toxin-reduced products, recycled content, sustainable sourcing
Water Low-flow fixtures, dual-flush toilets, site irrigation from reclaimed water
Energy Outdoor air units with exhaust heat recovery, two solar PV arrays, solar-thermal system, LED lighting, lighting controls, 4.5-megawatt cogeneration plant
Landscape Natural pond, native and drought-tolerant plants, organic vegetable garden

Just five years after Dell Children’s Medical Center in Austin, Texas, was completed in 2008, its owner, the Seton Healthcare Family, built a third bed tower, designed to the highest sustainable standards. “Since the hospital achieved LEED Platinum when it was built, it was the goal from the onset to achieve LEED Platinum status on the tower,” says Doug Strange, senior facilities project manager for Dell Children’s third tower.

This time, the $28 million construction project is applying for LEED for Healthcare, which was established after the main hospital finished construction. The new tower is designed to LEED Platinum certification, and once certified, it will be the first building to attain such a high certification under the LEED for Healthcare criteria. “When you set the goal of Platinum, every credit is on the table,” says Michele Van Hyfte, the manager of environmental stewardship at Seton. “You have to take everything into consideration.”

During construction of Dell’s new 72-bed tower, the team made sure to recycle as many construction materials as possible. “Our reports revealed our construction waste recycling is at 95 percent, which we feel is a success,” Strange says. The hospital installed a cogeneration plant that supplies all of the electricity, hot and chilled water, and steam for the new tower. In the new building, Dell took the opportunity to try techniques not used on the original hospital project such as installing photovoltaic panels and solar hot-water heaters. It has all LED lighting that is controlled by a low-voltage control system, and the building is on track to have a 35 percent water reduction due to low-flow fixtures and dual-flush toilets.

One of the biggest priorities in the new tower has been indoor air quality. “There is the first layer of toxicity that most certified projects address, but when it comes to health care, you can go deeper and deeper into the toxicity of products,” Van Hyfte says. “We’ve made a tremendous effort to ensure the levels are the lowest possible.” Before manufactured products were brought into the addition, they were sent to a central warehouse where they are unpacked and allowed to off-gas.

To actively promote health and wellness, the tower has an extensive healing garden for employees and patients to use. The space contains shaded respite areas, native plants, and an area for a future vegetable garden.