The health and wellness of our patients and our communities depends on the health of our natural environment. Essentia Health is committed to supporting a healthy environment through sustainability efforts in our Vision Northland project.

Essentia Health is creating specific goals on sustainability for Vision Northland. We are drawing from a variety of certification programs, including LEED, WELL, Fitwel, RELi, LBC, SITES and Reset, to create a customized approach. We will incorporate criteria that best align with our mission - We are called to make a healthy difference in people’s lives - and our values, particularly stewardship.

We're working with our architects and an internal sustainability committee to guide our decisions and set benchmarks. We are focusing on areas such as community, ecology, water, energy, wellness, resources and resilient design to meet changes in function and environmental conditions. We plan to share our efforts with our staff and the community when final decisions are made.

Here are some goals already met by the design of our new medical facility:

  • Energy efficiency will be 10 percent better than the national standard set by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and the Minnesota Energy Code.
  • Water use will be 20% more efficient than LEED V4 baseline, thanks to plumbing fixtures such as high-efficiency toilets, sinks and showers.

Design features include:

  • All lighting fixtures will use energy-saving LED bulbs.
  • Lighting network will automatically turn lights on and off based on a room’s occupancy in public areas.
  • Heating and cooling systems are designed to monitor energy use and help proactively predict maintenance issues.
  • A heat recovery chiller will provide heating during summer when both cooling and heating are required.

Utility Partners

We have chosen Duluth Energy Systems, the city’s steam plant, to heat our new facility and its hot water. By partnering with the city, we are supporting Duluth Energy Systems and helping it make ongoing improvements to meet the city’s comprehensive land use plan, “Imagine Duluth 2035.” We are also installing our own boiler heating system for use in an emergency. In such a scenario, our system could be used to feed the Duluth Energy Systems’ distribution system and its customers.

We are relying on Minnesota Power for our electricity and working with the regional utility to incorporate energy-efficient devices and methods that earn rebates to reduce our costs.

By partnering with Duluth Energy Systems and Minnesota Power, we are helping two local utilities reach their energy goals and move away from coal to more renewable and cleaner sources of power.

Listening to Our Community

We have listened to our neighbors and community members who have raised concerns about bird migration and light pollution.

We know Duluth is a major bird migration route and we recognize the dangers that glass buildings and lighting pose to birds.

  • We are committed to using fritted glass and window blinds to help avoid bird strikes. It’s possible to make glass visible to birds while keeping it transparent enough for humans. Our architects are using fritting to create a pattern that breaks up the reflectivity of the glass and alerts birds to its presence. People on the inside can see through the glass but birds outside see it as a wall. We’re also talking with local birding experts and organizations, such Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory to incorporate best practices.
  • Evening and night lighting are being designed to reduce skyglow and light trespass. According to the Bird-Safe Building Guidelines issued by Audubon Minnesota, reducing interior, exterior and site lighting has been proven effective at reducing nighttime migratory bird collisions and mortality.

We recognize the need to use lighting designs that address important community and environmental concerns as well as the safety and security of patients, staff and neighbors. Our designs meet standards set by the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) and local building codes. To address public concerns on light pollution and the environmental impact of the lighting design, the design team is using guidelines and codes from multiple sources including the City of Duluth, ASHRAE, LEED, and the International Dark Sky Association (IDA).

We are committed to using site luminaires with a CCT of 2700K and minimum color rendering index (CRI) of 80. We are analyzing using lower luminaire limits while maintaining security. We’ll also have controls to dim lights between midnight and 5 a.m.

Reducing Waste

We plan to recycle 75% of our demolition materials in terms of weight. We’ll recycle all steel, concrete and asphalt. We’re removing any materials, such as ceiling tiles and carpet tiles, that can be reused in our existing buildings or returned to manufacturers.

Construction waste is being recycled where possible and we are targeting 75% by weight for recycling. We’re also looking at our building design with our Environmental Services team to make sure our new facility has the space and equipment needed to recycle as much as possible from our waste stream.

Sustainability FAQs

View our Sustainability FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page to find answers to commonly asked questions.

Ask a Question

We invite you to ask a question about Vision Northland. We will do our best to provide a prompt response.


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