Dubbed a “sustainability superstar” by a national property awards judging panel, the $1.8 billion Sunshine Coast University Hospital is setting the standard for green health care in Australia.

Just 1% of the 2000-plus Green Star buildings around Australia are in the healthcare sector. Most of Australia’s greenest buildings are offices.

But if banks and law firms can reap the rewards of sustainable, healthy workplaces, then why can’t doctors, nurses and — most importantly of all — sick people?

We now have more than two decades of research, thousands of demonstration projects and a solid business case for sustainable design. We know green buildings aren’t just healthy for the environment, but also for the people who use them.

Our ageing healthcare facilities — with their around-the-clock operations, extensive air conditioning and specialist medical equipment — are notorious energy-guzzlers and water users. Hospitals use at least twice as much energy and around six times as much water per square metre as commercial office buildings.

The Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council, for example, has found the ‘archetypal hospital ward’ consistently consumes more energy than any other building type and has some of the biggest opportunities for improvement.

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