The Center for Health Design (CHD) has built its foundation firmly on the platform that healthcare construction projects utilizing credible evidence in the design decision-making process yield safer healing environments and that these environments best support the functional performance of caregivers and all who work there.

This concept is embraced within the healthcare design and construction industry and is often included in the selection criteria used to determine the best design team for a building project. Yet, if you ask 10 people to define evidence-based design, you likely will receive 10 different answers.

While the industry as a whole subscribes to the concept of evidence-based design, individuals often hesitate when it comes time for implementation. There is great uncertainty associated with identifying relevant, credible evidence; crafting a hypothesis with an intended outcome; gathering data—both during the project and postoccupancy—that will support or dispute the hypothesis; and how and where to publish findings for future project teams to reference as credible evidence.

In 2005, CHD received a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to develop an Evidence-Based Design Assessment and Certification (EDAC) program. At the HEALTHCARE DESIGN.05 conference, CHD held a workshop to introduce the EDAC program and invited interested workshop attendees to be part of the effort to create the program. This colossal task included defining the field of evidence-based design, establishing standards, building educational courses, and crafting an accreditation examination. From that initial workshop, more than 100 healthcare experts from across the country agreed to volunteer their time and began to develop EDAC. The efforts of these volunteers over the first year established the foundation upon which the program would be built.

The program is based on a two-phase model: Phase 1 (current) is the accreditation of individuals, and phase 2 (future) is the certification of projects. EDAC will educate every professional who participates in a healthcare building project on the procedure of incorporating credible evidence into design decisions. It’s a process, a set of behaviors that need to be integrated by each member of the project team. The EDAC program also incorporates the benefits of an interdisciplinary design team, the eight components of the Environment of Care, and the overall connection to the healthcare delivery system.

Understanding EDAC content

Throughout the development of the EDAC program, CHD has kept true to our core principals: research, education, and advocacy. Years of research have been applied to developing the program, which focuses on the following content domains:

  • Evidence-based Design for Healthcare

  • Research

  • Pre-design

  • Design

  • Construction and Occupancy

Educational tools are being modeled around these five content domains. Information regarding the specific content the exam will cover is posted on the CHD Web site at

Any individual involved in the healthcare design and construction process will find value in the educational modules of EDAC and the distinction of becoming EDAC accredited. The intent of the EDAC test is to verify individuals (candidates) knowledge of how to incorporate credible evidence into their design decision making process. The exam will not ask candidates to identify existing evidence for a specific topic, but rather it will ask candidates to identify the process of incorporating existing, credible evidence into the design decision-making process.

Candidates who become EDAC accredited will be recognized as proficient in the process of evidence-based design. For healthcare organizations committed to incorporating evidence-based design into their building projects, EDAC accreditation communicates a design practitioner’s capabilities through an impartial third party, The Center for Health Design.

EDAC shares similarities with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification program. According to the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED is able to offer building owners knowledge to positively impact the performance of their buildings. Simply put, projects and people are both acknowledged. The same is true for EDAC.

Unlike The American College Health Association (ACHA) and The American Academy of Healthcare Interior Designers (AAHID), EDAC is not strictly a membership program. EDAC candidates will be assessed through an examination that has been developed with the assistance of an independent psychometric firm, Applied Measurement Professionals, Inc. (AMP). Only then will individuals be able to use EDAC credentials to signify their status as an EDAC Practitioner.

EDAC will not create researchers out of all of us, nor will candidates be assessed based on their experience level to date. Instead, EDAC prescribes an adjustment to the traditional project delivery approach. Using the knowledge gained, EDAC accredited professionals will be able to accurately identify and incorporate credible evidence into projects. Similarly, EDAC practitioners will be able to apply the appropriate people to the project’s team at the right time.

EDAC accredited professionals will demonstrate a clear understanding of the Environment of Care components that are outlined in The 2006 Guidelines for Design and Construction of Health Care Facilities. The EDAC Practitioner will be able to understand how these components are linked to evidence-based design and the healthcare delivery system.

Who can be EDAC accredited?

Anyone involved in a healthcare construction project should consider becoming EDAC accredited. The program is designed not only for architects and interior designers, but for healthcare planners, engineers, contractors, and anyone in the management team of a healthcare organization that has direct responsibility for planning and designing buildings.

EDAC creates a common terminology to facilitate the planning process. For this reason, EDAC is valuable for many others, including landscape architects, consultants, educators, and students.

Becoming EDAC accredited

The EDAC assessment examination will cover information from all five content domains. There are no prerequisites to sit for the exam.

For candidates who need to increase their knowledge in one or more of the five content domains, CHD is creating a set of learning tools to teach the concepts and processes covered by the EDAC program. For instance, EDAC candidates who need instructional aid for the first content domain, Evidence-based Design for Healthcare, will learn all about evidence-based design and research in that content domain’s educational module. A few of the concepts within this domain are:

  • What is evidence-based design?

  • The process of incorporating credible evidence into design decisions

  • Where to find credible evidence

  • How to evaluate existing research and determine its value to a current project

  • How to identify appropriate research methodologies to apply to current projects

Candidates will also learn how to craft a hypothesis, gather data, and produce their findings in a way that can be referenced in the future as credible evidence. No research experience required! By properly utilizing EDAC’s educational modules, candidates should learn all they need to know to incorporate research into their projects.

Education is fundamental to The Center for Health Design. We encourage candidates to carefully prepare for the exam. We believe it is vital to provide EDAC candidates with study materials. These materials will provide test-takers with the necessary knowledge to pass the exam.

With that in mind, the first step to becoming EDAC accredited is to obtain a copy of the study guide from CHD’s Web site, The study guide will contain all the background knowledge emphasized in the exam. An overview of this study guide will be provided at the HEALTHCARE DESIGN.07 conference in Dallas.

Other educational tools will be developed in the months following the release of the study guide. In 2008, the study guide will be reconfigured into dynamic online courses. Participation in these courses will provide EDAC candidates with an additional way to measure their competency level prior to sitting for the exam.


AMP will provide logistical information to candidates. Through AMP’s Web site, candidates will be able to register for the exam, download the candidate handbook and locate local testing facilities. All exams will be taken on a computer that is monitored by personnel at the testing facilities.

An EDAC workshop will be offered at HEALTHCARE DESIGN.07 in Dallas on November 4th from 9:15am to 11:15am. Workshop attendees will learn what is required of an evidence-based design practitioner and what they will gain by utilizing the EDAC educational tools and becoming EDAC accredited.The Center for Health Design will launch the EDAC examination in 2008. HD

Register for the workshop and conference sessions at For more information about EDAC, visit or contact Carolyn Quist, CHD Project Manager, at 925.521.9404 or To comment on this article, visit