Humber River Hospital

Humber River Hospital, North America’s first fully-digital hospital, is revolutionizing sustainable healthcare design. As the most energy efficient hospital in North America, Humber River Hospital is an outstanding example of PCL’s commitment to sustainable construction​ and innovative smart-building technology. 

South facing exterior of Humber River Hospital and
landscaping. Photo courtesy of HDR Architecture,
Inc.,​ © 2015 Dan Schwalm/HDR

Main South entrance lobby. Photo
courtesy of HDR Architecture, Inc., ©
2015 Dan Schwalm/HDR

Digital Integrated Bedside Terminal patient room with
dynamic glass window.​ Photo courtesy of HDR
Architecture, Inc., © 2015 Dan Schwalm/HDR​

The hospital is bright and airy, with ample green spaces and walking paths, and incorporates contemporary design elements. Energy efficiency and smart-building technology combine in this state-of-the-art health care facility to provide patients with exemplary care.


PCL Toronto design-built the facility to Humber River Hospital’s vision for a building that maximizes technology, Lean design, and environmental planning, as stated by the hospital’s three guiding principles: Lean, green, and digital. The PCL team embedded this vision into every aspect of the project, from the dedication of 50 per cent of roof space to green areas to the first-in-Canada use of Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs), robotic vehicles that whiz through the hospital, opening doors, picking up dirty linens, and delivering 76 per cent of supplies like food and medication.

The AGVs are just one part of an industry-leading network that integrates the entire building’s digital components in a single command center, which enables the building operator to monitor actual energy usage and optimize energy and utility consumption accordingly. 

The hospital’s digital integration provides alerts and streamlined communication from statically located patients to on-the-go nurses and doctors. Patients control their environment and communicate with physicians using innovative Integrated Bedside Terminals (IBT). Even visitors are integrated into the network through customized software that provides ease of access to information when and where they need it. 

The leading-edge technology doesn’t stop there. The hospital boasts the world’s largest installation of dynamic glass windows, which patients control with a touch of their IBT, allowing them to adjust room temperature and window shading. The windows also respond to the sun’s position and time of day, resulting in less energy use overall.  

With smart-bed technology, robotic technology for certain surgical procedures, and automated laboratory processing, the innovations at Humber River Hospital are a revolution for smart hospitals of the future.


When the PCL team was challenged to meet unprecedented targets for energy efficiency, they wasted no time (or resources) finding a solution. Ninety-six per cent of construction waste was diverted from the landfill, 20 per cent of construction materials contained recycled content, 46 per cent were sourced regionally, and the site was 100 per cent paperless. 

The true innovation on this project is the hospital’s energy-efficiency outcome: Humber River Hospital is 41 per cent more efficient than any other hospital in North America. PCL engineered a state-of-the-art

heating, cooling, and ventilation system that pumps 100 per cent fresh air throughout the building, a first in North America. To achieve an energy efficiency model that is a 47 per cent improvement on that of the Energy Star Portfolio Manager Canada target for hospitals, the team also integrated energy-efficient lighting design and high-performance insulation in the roof and walls, and devoted 38 per cent of the project’s 1.8 million square feet to green space. 

PCL’s prefabrication construction techniques furthered the hospital’s lean and green philosophy. Three hundred and sixty patient washrooms and fourteen data rooms were built using off-site module manufacturing, then shipped to the project site when it was time for installation. This sustainable off-site construction​ generated less waste, enhanced quality, and reduced the overall carbon footprint of the project. As a result of the team’s determination, the project exceeded LEED® Silver expectations to attain LEED® Gold.

“Surpassing the project’s intended LEED® Silver classification to achieve LEED® Gold is testimony to the entire collaborative team’s relentless pursuit of achieving unprecedented energy efficiency targets to reduce Humber River Hospital’s carbon footprint and create a facility that balances energy efficiency and innovative technology, enabling the hospital to focus on its core business of providing exemplary patient care,” said PCL Toronto project director Bruce Macpherson. 

For more information on developing the most energy-efficient, fully-digital acute-care hospital in North America, consult this case study​ and check out this video: ​ ​​​​​​​​​​

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