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Hospital aims to turn green status into gold
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Through geothermal wells and other high technology, Northeast Georgia Medical Center Braselton hopes its green efforts in building the 100-bed hospital will turn into gold.

The hospital is seeking LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design recognizes “best-in-class building strategies and practices,” according to the council’s website.

To reduce heating costs, the hospital has built wells underground, where the earth’s temperature stays between 50 and 60 degrees year-round.

Conversely, the system can be used in the summer to cool rooms, “eliminating the need for fossil fuels in our facility,” according to a booklet produced by the hospital.

The field behind the hospital containing more than 150 wells serves another purpose. Because it never will be built upon, it also is a natural landscape patients can view from their rooms.

The hospital also features equipment that measures how much energy is being used in the building and “then adjusts to maintain our energy efficiency goals in real time,” the booklet states.

Visitors will find LED lighting throughout the building, heat-resistant glass and solar-controlled window shades. Also in place is a white roof to reflect heat “so our energy consumption for heating and cooling is as low as possible.”

With Mulberry River nearby, the hospital uses several methods to control stormwater, including trenches, wetlands, canopy trees and a native grass meadow.

“Through our preservation efforts, we will remain cutting edge in environmental stewardship,” the hospital vows.

Rudy Lonergan, the hospital’s facilities development director, said officials are projecting the hospital could get the LEED certification in about six to eight months.

The process depends on how long it takes the green council to review the application and for the hospital to respond to questions the group may have, he said.

“Hopefully we will have a smooth process,” Lonergan said.