LONGVIEW, TX -- The Institute for Healthy Living at Good Shepherd, Longview, TX, has received Gold Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Program. It is the first hospital-based health and wellness center in the country to achieve this level of certification.

Good Shepherd Medical System’s Healthy Living Institute opened last year with a long list of environmentally friendly features that helped the facility meet the standard for Gold Certification. The U.S. Green Building Council has awarded Gold Certification to almost 1,200 U.S. buildings since the program began.

The facility was designed by Denver-based Ohlson Lavoie Collaborative, which specializes in the architectural design of wellness, recreation, fitness and aquatic facilities. The design included a reflective white roof to reduce heat and cooling requirements, pervious pavement that allows rainwater to soak naturally into the soil, landscaping with plants that require little or no irrigation, and interior pool water that recycles with the aid of appropriate filtering systems. It also has temperature control with room monitoring sensors for automatic adjustments, ozone-enhanced cold water laundry systems and a solar-powered heating system for indoor pools. Another unique element is an open space and aquatic-based habitat for wild animals through restoration of existing pond and reforestation of undeveloped land.

The facility also allows users of alternative transportation (bikers/walkers/runners) to have access to storage facilities and changing/shower facilities in the building. Preferred parking spots are designated for drivers of high-efficiency vehicles. Solatubes “light pipes” introduce daylight throughout the fitness floor. On-site renewable energy offsets up to 3 percent of annual energy costs and 11 percent of the annual natural gas usage. The architectural products and materials used have up to 59 percent recycled content. The design also called for rapidly renewable materials, such as bamboo and cork.