LEED accreditation also remains difficult for healthcare projects, due to incremental construction and renovations that often tie into existing mechanical systems. “If you want to meet the LEED requirements, much of your work has to do with using very efficient heating and cooling and ventilation systems,” Burdette says. “If you’re stuck with an older system, it’s very hard to do what you need to do to get up to those standards. The nice thing about a hospice is that it’s almost always a free-standing building, so you’ve got a clean slate, it’s not that many square feet, and you can design your system so that it really produces some energy savings.”
Thanks to its bucolic setting, Willson Hospice House has become more than a patient-care facility for Albany; master gardeners make frequent visits to study the plant life on site, as have Boy Scout troops and other community organizations.
“We hope that this will give people the idea that hospice is a good thing to do, the right thing to do and a healthful thing,” says Burdette. “I would really like to see more hospices able to find some part of what they have—in this case, it was the campus—to tie into the heart of the towns and cities where they work, so that they take away some of the uncertainties and fears surrounding the program. Hospice is a part of the community, not something to be afraid of. The biggest thing they’re doing in Albany is getting across the idea that this is a natural part of life.”