Baptist Health South Florida

By Jennifer Sperry on April 24, 2012

Eric Wenke discusses green changes, both great and small, at this award-winning health care system.

“There is nothing healthy about waste, nor is it good business sense,” says Eric Wenke, assistant vice president of strategic planning and market development at Baptist Health South Florida. “Greening our operations helps improve patient and employee satisfaction and lowers costs. As a faith-based nonprofit organization, our charitable mission guides us to implement practices that contribute to a healthier environment for our community,” he adds.

Green efforts at Baptist Health focus on construction, transportation, energy, waste management and recycling, product procurement, communications and education, IT, and clinical. In collaboration with senior management as well as Baptist Health’s more than 15,000 employees, Wenke and members of his team have logged a variety of pace-setting achievements and continue to challenge the status quo of sustainable health care.

Construction

New construction at Baptist Health incorporates sustainable strategies to meet LEED standards. Over 20 on-staff LEED professionals, including Wenke, spearhead this commitment.

Baptist Health’s new hospital, West Kendall, completed in 2010, received a LEED Gold certification and is the first acute-care hospital to achieve such a distinction in Florida. Not surprisingly, it boasts an extensive roster of green features, including the recycling of all construction debris, inclusion of regional construction materials, and the installation of high-efficiency equipment.

Transportation

Baptist Health South Florida brought its green transportation initiatives to the next level when it introduced electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. “This is a ‘chicken and egg’ scenario,” explains Wenke. “First, will people buy electric vehicles without an infrastructure to support them? Secondly, will manufacturers produce as many of these vehicles if people don’t buy them? We wanted to be ahead of this curve and encourage EV use in South Florida.”

Five EV charging stations currently operate in campus parking garages and three more installations are planned. For employees, these stations represent a free “fill up” at work and double as preferential parking spaces. Members of the community are encouraged to park in the spaces free of charge. “We’re looking to help move past the electric car inertia and speed up this important change,” says Wenke.

Charging stations apply toward Sustainable Sites and Innovation in Design LEED credits for existing and future construction projects. They even open the door to the potential acquisition of emissions-free fleet vehicles.

Other green transportation initiatives include bike storage areas and 50–100 percent subsidies on mass transportation for employees. In addition, Baptist Health executives recently worked with community leaders to introduce a new bus and mass transit hub near a campus.

The Green Curve

“Our focus on cultural change communications and education led us to build a Green Adoption Curve,” says Wenke, who presented the concept at CleanMed 2011. “It’s designed to measure uptake and buy-in for sustainable initiatives across the organization.”

The curve moves through four stages: 1. the concept of why Baptist Health should be green, 2. the intermediate attitude that green is fine as long as it is not too disruptive or costly, 3. the acceptance of Baptist Health as a green organization that will benefit from its own advances, and 4. the forward-thinking concept of Baptist Health as a green leader.

Green teams and the introduction of sustainable building initiatives played a crucial role in Baptist Health achieving its goal of being a leader in green practices.

Community

Baptist Health South Florida believes in lending its support and expertise to community initiatives whenever possible. “We work with organizations and government municipalities and present our projects to encourage other organizations to institute similar programs,” says Wenke, who also works with DreaminGreen.org to implement green programs in local schools.

“We are constantly working to extend our message, to make a difference,” says Wenke. “We all breathe the same air—our goal is to make everyone breathe a little easier.”

New Hospital Members

  • Hospice of the Western Reserve Cleveland, OH
  • Poudre Valley Hospital Fort Collins, CO
  • Presbyterian Hospital Huntersville Huntersville, NC

ReNewing Hospital Members

  • Connecticut Children’s Medical Center Hartford, CT
  • Covenant Health Systems Tewksbury, MA
  • Department of Veterans Affairs Washington DC
  • Dignity Health San Francisco, CA
  • Fletcher Allen Health Care Burlington, VT
  • Mayo Clinic Rochester, MN
  • Metro Health Hospital Wyoming, MI
  • The Miriam Hospital Providence, RI
  • UC Health Cincinnati, OH
  • University of Washington Medical Center Seattle, WA

New Strategic Resource Network

  • Efficiency Vermont Burlington, VT
  • Nightingale Institute for Health and the Environment Burlington, VT