Versa Wallcovering

Lehigh Valley Health Network

Earth Friendly Wallcoverings for LEED Certified Expansion

When Lehigh Valley Health Network sourced materials for its LEED-certified Kasych Family Pavilion in Allentown, PA., they needed a wallcovering that was eco-forward, highly durable and aesthetically appealing.  “It was a balancing act,” says Chris Richardson, managing principal of Charlotte-based FreemanWhite, architects for the seven-story, 340,000 square-foot expansion and renovation. “We wanted to be earth-friendly, but also needed a durable material for high-use areas.  The hospital tried natural cellulose wallcoverings in installations and found they could not maintain them.” Upscale aesthetics also was important, according to Brenda Rocchino, Lehigh Valley interior designer. “Wallcoverings help us create warm healing environments. They have more visual interest and are more upscale than paint, which tends to look institutional.” 

The team found the right balance in Second-Look recycled wallcoverings. LSI Wallcovering provided the award-winning wallcoverings with 20% recycled content.  Made of high-performance Type II vinyl, the wallcovering will last for 10+ years and can be repeatedly recycled to keep it out of landfills for decades.  Second-Look also is low-VOC, so contributes to healthy indoor air quality.  Its specification helped contribute to LEED. 

Wallcovering needs for the $241 million, 120-bed tower were diverse.  The expansion houses an intensive care unit, inpatient burn center, open-heart surgery patient units as well as a classrooms, media center, pharmacy, cafeteria and office space.  To meet the rigorous performance criteria, Lehigh needed all the durability of vinyl wallcovering.  “We have had good luck with vinyl wallcovering.  It handles impact and hides wear much better than paint.  It also improves sound absorption and provides more visual interest,” Rocchino says.

Lehigh warmed up the appearance of long corridors and high-tech patient rooms with more than 20 patterns of textured wallcoverings in welcoming earth tones.  The design process was very inclusive, with nursing staff and patients weighing in on patterns and color palettes.  “We took an open space across from the campus and mocked up three different types of patients rooms,” Richardson explains.  “We invited nursing staff to come in, look at them and help select the color scheme they wanted in their area.”  The design team also tested issues such as counter heights, patient lifts, placement of equipment and even locations of power outlets.  Current and former patients provided feedback that helped the team design an aesthetically pleasing, patient-centered experience.    

Second-Look recycled wallcoverings were one of the measures that helped reduce the building’s carbon footprint, allowing it to quality for LEED certification.  Large windows increase natural light, while motion-controlled lighting and high-efficiency heating and air conditioning reduce power usage.  Over 80% of the construction debris also was recycled. 

When wallcoverings need to be replaced, Lehigh plans to reclaim them through the Second-Look program and recycle them for another lifetime of use.  “Our experience in working with Second-Look was very easy,” says Rocchino.  “We would definitely use the recycled wallcoverings again and look forward to using Second-Look to reclaim wallcoverings in our three campuses.”