Two newly opened UF Health facilities, which cost $425 million to build, are the first medical facilities in the country to get a four out of four Green Globe sustainability rating.

The Green Building Initiative, a nonprofit that certifies the Green Globes, gives a standard rating based on project management, energy, water, materials and resources and other aspects of the building process.

The UF Health Heart & Vascular and UF Neuromedicine Hospitals, which had their ribbon cutting in early November, have been the only hospitals to get a perfect score based on all the fields.

Brad Politt, UF Health Shands vice president of facilities, said the  certification comes at the end of a three-and-a-half year application and  inspection process.

"We asked at the beginning of design because we wanted the architects and engineers to be on board early," Politt said.

Shaina Weinstein, the vice president of engagement for Green Building Initiative, said one aspect that made UF Health appealing was that they brought together all the specialists working on the project early to sketch blueprints, called integrated design. She said this process helps them avoid backstepping.

"Once the building is built, making changes becomes difficult," Weinstein said. "The process of building is very complicated, and if not everybody is in the same place, then there is a lot of room for error, and a lot of those mistakes will result in not achieving the sustainability that was the goal in the first place."

One of the innovations that helped the hospitals rank high was giving Gainesville Regional Utilities a place at the table, Politt said.  

"One of the things (Green Building Initiative) were impressed with was the on-site energy center we built," Politt said.

The sustainability-savvy buildings are connected to what Politt said UF Health engineers have nicknamed the "umbilical cord". This is a concrete-reinforced network of pipes and cables stemming from the on-site energy plant that pumps electricity and water into the new facilities.

“The energy center generates power onsite, which means it doesn’t have to distribute it over distribution lines, which is more energy-efficient,” Politt said.

He said the heat that comes off the energy center gets turned into steam and chilled water.

“We essentially recycle what would have been thrown-away heat,” he said.

Politt said they also reused a tree growing on site, which would have been knocked down.

“We actually harvested a pecan tree and turned it into an awesome table and some chairs,” he said.