Hessam Sadatsafavi


Hessam Sadatsafavi

Postdoctoral Associate
3422 Martha Van Rensselaer Hall
Email: hs825@cornell.edu
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Biographical Statement:

Hessma Sadadsafavi, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral associate at Cornell University in the Department of Design and Environmental Analysis and the Cornell Institute for Health Futures. Hessam has earned a doctorate degree in construction engineering and management from Texas A&M University, Zahcry Department of Civil Engineering and an undergraduate degree in architectural engineering from University of Tehran (Iran), College of Fine Arts, Department of Architecture.

Hessam’s main area of research and professional experience is management science applications in design, construction, and operation of facilities and infrastructures for improving human health and safety and enhancing organizational efficiency. Hessam has authored/coauthored 14 peer-reviewed journal publications in various fields, including facility management, engineering management, sustainability, healthcare administration, and critical care medicine.

Teaching and Advising Statement:

I believe the learning process in design and engineering programs should be an intellectual journey for students. Design and engineering problems typically do not have a definite right or wrong answer; rather, students should learn principally through a discussion of how to solve problems and should be able to revise their approaches according to accumulating knowledge and experiences.To expose students to new thoughts and broaden their curiosity, I use approaches that will help them conceptualize, interpret, and relate ideas and observations to the body of technical knowledge they have acquired. The process of learning in this discipline can therefore be a context-specific and personal experience, and a good teacher should recognize this. I also believe that, because of rapid advancement in the design and engineering field, students in these majors need to gain the confidence to learn independently. Accordingly, a good educator should strive to improve students’ abilities to become self-learners by creating a student-directed setting. My teaching philosophy is intertwined with the teaching methodologies I used in my class as explained below.

Current Research Activities:

I believe the built environment acts as the setting for the development of communities, and as such, it can be a crucial contributor or barrier to their sustainable development. Given the multitude of social, environmental, and economic factors affected by the built environment, research in this field is naturally a multidisciplinary endeavor. Concordantly, when translated into practice, such research can help design professionals become integrated in multidisciplinary teams involved in shaping facilities.

One example of a multidisciplinary research effort was laid out in my dissertation study, in which I investigated the interaction between human resource management and hospital design and operation from the organizational sustainability perspective. I collected data from 720 employees at 11 hospitals across the United States, with a special focus on the socio-emotional aspects of facility design and operation as factors that can decrease job-related anxiety and improve employee-employer relations. The main finding of this study was that the impact of the human resource management system on employees’ job attitudes is 6% higher when employees are satisfied with their physical work environment compared to when they are not.

As another example, I led a comparative study of green versus non-green hospitals with respect to their financial performances and patient experiences. Using data from three large national databases of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), I found that while green hospitals had higher facility operating expenses than average non-green hospitals of similar type, size, and location, patients hospitalized in green hospitals reported overall higher ratings than those in traditional hospitals. Overall, findings from such studies demonstrate how big data analysis techniques can be used to leverage CMS rich source of data for informing investment decisions by showing the most effective facility design and operation strategies that can improve the financial and social performances of organizations. 

My current research projects include the followings: 

Adult and Neonatal Intensive Care Units - Financial Evaluation of Design and Operation Practices: n this study we are looking at the financial return of ICU design and operation best practices, including single-patient rooms, with respects to their effectiveness in reducing hospital-acquired infections, length of stay, and cost of care. To quantify the risk of investments in facilities, we are using a probabilistic approach to account for uncertainties associated with financial and clinical factors that might impact the effectiveness of design and operation practices in reducing hospital-acquired infections, length of stay, and cost of care.


Facility Design and Operation as a Human Resource Management Tool for Improving Employee Health and Cognitive Functioning: While there seems to be censuses in previous studies regarding the impact of indoor environmental quality (IEQ) on building occupants, one of the main limitations in previous studies is that almost all studies used self-reported measures. A major need exist for high quality objective metrics for understanding the effect of IEQ on occupant’s health and productivity.  My main role at Cornell University has been contributing to a translational project that has formed a partnership between Cornell Institute for Healthy Futures and the International WELL Building Institute to perform the first longitudinal field evaluation of IEQ impact on cognitive functioning of employees, their perceived wellbeing (mental and physical health) and prosocial behaviors. 


Healthcare Preferences and Living Environment for New York State Residents: Using a state-wide survey data, along with publicly available information on the living environment, including neighborhood walking and biking friendliness, we are looking at healthcare preferences and experience of New York state residents. An interactive data visualization tool has been developed for this study is accessible at https://cihf.shinyapps.io/Emp_State_2016/  (please right click and then selct "Open link in new tab")


A Web-Based Benchmarking Tool for Healthcare Facility Operation and Maintenance Costs: In this study, we are using national cost report data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to develop a web-based benchmarking tool for comparing the operation and maintenance costs of healthcare facilities with their peers. The application contains data for more than 5,000 hospitals around the U.S. that report to the CMS. Users can enter the CMS provider number of any facility and find its annual operation and maintenance costs per patient-day, its percentage difference from the comparison group median cost, and its percentile rank. The user can adjust the characteristics of the comparison group by indicating the type, ownership, and location of facilities to be included in the comparison. A breakdown (count and percentage) of facilities in the comparison group is provided in both tabular and visual formats. The pilot version of the benchmarking application can be found at https://hessamss.shinyapps.io/gb_benchmark (please right click and then selct "Open link in new tab")



Ph.D. in Construction Engineering and Management

Zachry Department of Civil Engineering, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas


M.S. in Construction and Project Management

Department of Architecture, College of Fine Arts, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran


B.S. in Architectural Engineering

Department of Architecture, College of Fine Arts, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran

Courses Taught:

Cornell University: DEA 3550 - Research Methods in Human-Environment Relations

Texas A&M University: CVEN 333 - Project Management for Engineers

Related Websites:


Selected Publications:

14. Sadatsafavi H., Niknejad J., Shepley M., Sadatsafavi M. 2017. “Probabilistic Return-on-Investment Analysis of Single-Family Versus Open-Bay Rooms in Neonatal Intensive Care Units—Synthesis and Evaluation of Early Evidence” Journal of Intensive Care Medicine, 10.1177/0885066616689774.

13. Sadatsafavi H., Niknejad J., Zadeh R., Sadatsafavi M. 2016. “Do Cost Savings from Reductions in Nosocomial Infections Justify Additional Costs of Single-Bed Rooms in Intensive Care Units? A Simulation Case Study.” Journal of Critical Care, 31(1):194-200.

12. Zadeh R., Sadatsafavi H., Xue R. 2015 “Evidence-Based and Value-Based Decision Making about Health-Care Design: An Economic Evaluation of Safety and Quality Outcomes.” Health Environments Research and Design Journal, 8(4): 58-76.

11. Sadatsafavi H., Walewski J., Shepley M. 2015. "Physical Work Environment as a Managerial Tool for Decreasing Job-Related Anxiety and Improving Employee-Employer Relations." Journal of Healthcare Management, 60(2): 114-132.

10. Sadatsafavi H., Walewski J., Taborn II M. 2015. “Patient Experience with Hospital Care - Comparison of a Sample of Green Hospitals and Non-Green Hospitals” Journal of Green Building, 10(1): 169-185.

9. Sadatsafavi H., Walewski J., Taborn II M. 2014 “Comparison of a Sample of Green Hospitals with Non-Green Hospitals with Respects to Operating Expenses and Patient Revenue.” Journal of Green Building. 9(3): 163-188.

8. Sadatsafavi H., Walewski J., Shepley M. 2015. “The Influence of Facility Design and Human Resource Management on Healthcare Professionals.” Health Care Management Review, 40(2):126-38.

7. Sadatsafavi H., Walewski J., Shepley M. 2014. “Factors Influencing Evaluation of Patient Areas, Work Spaces, and Staff  Areas by Healthcare Professionals.” Indoor and Built Environment, 24(4): 439-456

6. Sadatsafavi H., and Walewski J. 2013. “Corporate Sustainability: the Environmental Design and Human Resource Management Interface in Healthcare Settings.” Health Environments Research and Design Journal, 6(2): 98-118.

5. Kim A., Sadatsafavi H., Anderson S., Bishop P. 2016. “Preparing for the Future of Transportation Construction: Strategies for State Transportation Agencies.” ASCE Journal of Management in Engineering, 10.1061/(ASCE)ME.1943-5479.0000494 , 04016045.

4. Sadatsafavi H., Kim A., Soucek K. 2016. “Impact of Roles and Affiliations on End-Users' Acceptance of ERP Implementation in a Large Transportation Agency.” ASCE Journal of Management in Engineering, 32(3), 05016018.

3. Kim A., Sadatsafavi H., Soucek K. 2015.“Effective Communication Practices for Implementing ERP for a Large Transportation Agency.” ASCE Journal of Management in Engineering, 32(3), 04015049.

2. Kwak Y.H., Sadatsafavi H., Walewski J., Williams N. 2015. “Evolution of Project Based Organization: A Case Study.” International Journal of Project Management, 33(8): 1652-1664.  

1. Kwak Y.H., Walewski J., Sleeper D., Sadatsafavi H. 2014. “What Can We Learn From the Hoover Dam Project that Influenced Modern Project Management?” International Journal of Project Management, 32(2): 256–264.

Selected Keywords:
cost-effectiveness, design research, sustainability, intensive care, critical care, facility management, facility performance evaluation, project management, engineering management, organizational improvement

The information on this bio page is taken from the CHE Annual Report.