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Specifying Windows for Behavioral Healthcare Projects by Lisa May Photos © Weston Imaging WHETHER REPLACING A DATED, INEFFICIENT HOSPITAL OR RENOVATING AN HISTORIC MENTAL HEALTH INSTITUTION, WINDOW SELECTION IS AN IMPORTANT CONSIDERATION IN CREATING A MODERN, HEALING ENVIRONMENT. Behavioral healthcare facilities must minimize risks to patient safety, while maintaining a therapeutic environment. Windows provide daylighting and views to outside, helping create a more homelike and caring atmosphere for patients, while also contributing to staff health and well-being. The American Institute of Architects’ (AIA’s) 2006 Guidelines for Design and Construction of Healthcare Facilities notes: The built environment, no matter how well-constructed, cannot be relied on as an absolute preventive measure. Staff awareness of their environment, and the behavior risks and needs of the patients served in the environment are absolute necessities[.] To ensure safety, behavioral healthcare facilities must meet comprehensive accreditation standards. A facility’s risk assessment depends on the patient population being served. Patient supervision and policies governing staff intercession, as well as control of patient access to various types of objects, are often site-specific variables. Risk also varies for areas within the building—seclusion rooms, bedrooms, and comfort spaces usually warrant consideration as higher-risk areas. Selecting windows in patient-accessible areas calls for careful consideration. For behavioral healthcare applications, window products’ evaluation may include resistance to, or restriction of: • escape attempts; • patient access to unauthorized areas; • attack to window components using blunt or sharp objects; 12 the construction specifier | february 2013 CS_Feb2013.indd 12 1/17/13 11:07:20 AM