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Joan Wickersham

Spaulding Rehab puts climate change in concrete terms

In the event of a disaster, a hospital relies on backup emergency power. But if the disaster is a flood, and the emergency equipment is located near or below sea level, the systems will fail and the situation for patients can become deadly. That happened in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. And that’s why all the critical power and data equipment for Boston’s new Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital will be located above the first floor.

Since Partners HealthCare began working with architects Perkins + Will on the new Spaulding, the team has focused on principles of environmentally sustainable design. The building incorporates high-performance glass and wall insulation, lots of natural light, natural ventilation in public areas, and light-colored paving to keep the site from overheating. But perhaps the most interesting thing about the project is that the client is spending money in anticipation of climate change.

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