Robin Guenther: A brilliant, passionate, and inspirational colleague

  • Global

Health Care Without Harm is saddened to learn of the death of Robin Guenther, a pioneer in sustainable health care architecture and restorative health care design. She was a critical partner in our work to advance sustainable health care for decades.

Robin was co-author, along with John Balbus, on the Sustainable and Climate-Resilient Health Care Facilities Toolkit, produced for the Department of Health and Human Services and released at a White House event. It was the first national framework for how U.S. hospitals could address the resilience of their facilities and supply chain in the face of climate disruption.

In 2007, she worked with Health Care Without Harm to develop the Green Guide for Health Care, a seminal piece in health care sustainability that led major health care systems to incorporate environmental health considerations into their building design. The Guide was later adapted to become Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design or LEED for health care, and Robin served on the LEED committee responsible for supporting its implementation. 

Robin also contributed to the development of Health Care Without Harm’s work around the world. She was co-author of the Global Green and Healthy Hospitals Agenda, which set the foundation for establishing what is now a worldwide network of hospitals and health systems in more than 80 countries. She helped launch the GGHH network in China, and spoke at events organized by Health Care Without Harm and its partners in Europe and Latin America, sharing her expertise and vision.

Robin Guenther

Robin Guenther helped launch the GGHH network in China. Photo: Josh Karliner.

Robin literally co-wrote the book on Sustainable Healthcare Architecture. And, as Principal at the global architecture and design firm Perkins+Will, she was the architect on many innovative health care buildings, designs that have often been published nationally and internationally. In 2010 the Healthcare Design magazine named her the “#1 Most Influential Designer in Healthcare”, and in 2012 Fast Company included her as one of the “100 most creative people in business.”

Her remarks in a TedMed talk in 2014 still ring true to our work today and how Robin helped shape it: “We all know that health is more than health care, and more than physical well-being. It's a scalable concept that ranges from individual to community to global.”

“Restorative design is about moving from so-called solutions that degrade health in the environment, to true solutions that do no harm and heal some of the harm we've already done. It's about finding solutions that stop making us sick.”

Robin was dedicated to transforming our world for the better – a tenacious, passionate, and caring individual who brought her whole self to the work. We will miss her personally and professionally.