Presenting the Top 25 Environmental Excellence Award Winners
Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital
Downers Grove, Illinois
324 Beds, 17 ORs
Advocate as a health system has been a leader in the healthy interiors arena for several years, including petitioning the Illinois fire marshal to allow for flame-retardant-free furniture, making a public announcement on the health impacts of flame retardants, and instituting a purchasing standard to avoid chemicals of concern in furniture and furnishings. In 2016, the hospital’s Infection Prevention Team approved the addition of avoiding antimicrobials to the furniture-purchasing standard. Advocate Good Samaritan led the system with Healthier Hospitals-compliant furniture purchases both in total dollars and in compliance percentage, with 75 percent of furniture (excluding beds and mattresses) achieving the target for the Healthy Interiors goal.
One of three major building projects in 2016, the Bhorade Cancer Center was expanded to provide comprehensive services in one destination. The 15,000-square-foot expansion incorporated energy-efficient Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) equipment, proper zoning of mechanical design to minimize usage, LED lighting, low-flow plumbing fixtures, PVC-free flooring and finishes, VOC-free paint and use of natural daylight in patient areas. All infusion bays and private rooms have floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall windows looking out on a new healing garden.
With all of this activity, it is not surprising that 83 percent of the staff felt the site was environmentally responsible in staff satisfaction surveys.
Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital
169 Beds, 14 ORs
Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital engages its community through its on-site Smart Farm, a volunteer, nonprofit organization with a mission of growing fresh produce for neighbors in need and providing education on sustainable gardening practices and healthy eating. In 2016, Smart Farm donated more than 9,000 pounds of produce to local food pantries. Of the meat and poultry Good Shepherd purchases, 15.6 percent is raised without the routine use of non-therapeutic antibiotics, and the facility had an 8.2 percent spend on sustainable foods and a robust 59.4 percent spend on healthy beverages.
Good Shepherd has decreased its energy use intensity by nearly 37 percent since 2008. All operating rooms have HVAC setbacks and LED surgical lighting. In 2016, the hospital began a boiler plant optimization project and an LED lighting upgrade. The hospital decreased water consumption by 500,000 gallons in 2016. The hospital submeters the cooling tower and boiler and chilled-water makeups, and recovers condensate to add to the boilers.
Good Shepherd recently removed eight sterilizers and added one-liter flush urinals in most of the public and staff restrooms. Outside, native plants are drought-resistant, and the existing stormwater detention basin was enhanced to include a shallow marsh pre-filtration bay, reducing the amount of stormwater discharged downstream.
Aleda E. Lutz VA Medical Center
89 Beds, 4 ORs
Environmental stewardship is a top priority at the Aleda E. Lutz VA Medical Center. Recent energy reduction projects include the installation of LED lighting, implementation of demand control ventilation, use of natural daylight and installation of occupancy sensors. A recent investment focused on replacing old windows with new, energy-efficient windows.
Transportation planning includes alternative-fuel vehicles (ethanol and electric) for supply delivery, reduced days of delivery and a no-idling policy, all designed to reduce greenhouse gases and pollution. The facility participates in regional transportation planning, bike racks and ride-sharing services, which promote single-occupant vehicle use reduction.
In the green cleaning arena, 64 percent of expenditures on the five target cleaning products meet the specification for Eco Logo or Green Seal certification. With the acquisition of new floor refinishing equipment, the facility refinishes waxed floors without the use of stripping chemicals, which decreases VOCs within the facility. Green acquisitions are a priority, as well: 80 percent of purchased furniture avoids key chemicals of concern, which is in line with Practice Greenhealth’s Healthy Interiors goal. By moving to on-demand ordering and implementing food waste reduction measures, Aleda E. Lutz VA Medical Center has driven costs down for inpatient meals.
Boston Medical Center
487 Beds, 22 ORs
Boston Medical Center’s (BMC) focus on greenhouse gas emissions reduction is a key component of its efforts to make Boston home to the healthiest urban population in the world. So far, the medical center has reduced energy use by 19.4 percent from its 2011 baseline. It partnered with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Post Office Square Garage to enter into the largest-ever collaborative renewable power purchase agreement in the United States. It also recently signed a long-term “Green Steam” agreement, converting much of its district steam usage to combined heat and power-generated steam. BMC is currently projecting that it will be net-zero for greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.
BMC has also demonstrated leadership around healthy food: 47 percent of meat and poultry is from animals raised without the routine use of non-therapeutic antibiotics. Meat reduction has been incorporated through proper portioning and the use of plant proteins. All seafood is sourced locally through a partnership with the Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Association. A 17 percent local food spend is a result of food contracts and direct purchase from farmers. A 29 percent sustainable spend focuses on sustainably produced meat and seafood. A demonstration kitchen—available for patients and staff—educates around healthier food choices. Eighty-three tons of food waste was prevented from going to the landfill in 2016 through the hospital’s diversion efforts.
1,274 Beds, 86 ORs
Cleveland Clinic’s commitment to excellence in energy performance is demonstrated through on-site solar, which generates nearly 90,000 kilowatt hours (kwh) per year, and its continued focus on energy demand reduction. Other projects include chiller optimization, the largest LED lighting upgrade in the U.S. health care sector, a comprehensive HVAC setback program in 81.4 percent of its operating rooms and a temperature policy that saves more than 1.35 million kwh per year. Cleveland Clinic also advocates for legislation around climate change and energy conservation opportunities in health care, and its parent system was awarded ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year. Continuing its innovation and leadership in the green building arena, Cleveland Clinic’s Functional Medicine Institute became one of the first facilities in the world to practice the WELL Building Standard, which uses innovation and research-based strategies to advance health, happiness and productivity in buildings and communities. This certification is a strong complement to its organization’s built-in LEED focus.
Demonstrating its creativity, Cleveland Clinic’s Arts and Medicine Institute developed an art exhibit and panel discussion in 2016 featuring the intersection of art, the environment and climate change. Tours were offered for the duration of the exhibit and featured prominently at Earth Day events. It’s all about engagement at Cleveland Clinic.
Cheyenne VA Medical Center
87 Beds, 4 ORs
Excellence in energy performance is evident at the Cheyenne VA Medical Center. Along with four banks of solar panels and a range of energy conservation and reduction projects, it has a cogeneration plant that boasts a 1,180-horsepower generator equipped with heat recovery to produce both hot water and steam that exceed the energy needs for the entire facility. The combined heat and power project replaced steam-to-hot-water heating with hot-water heating throughout the facility. Use of this system dramatically reduces the carbon footprint and indirect pollution from coal-generated power.
Cheyenne VA has a strong commitment to community health. On Mondays in September, veterans coming to the VA can get free food from its Farmers Market. An on-site garden and greenhouse is managed by volunteers, and harvested vegetables are used in the hospital’s Community Living Center. When a large honeybee hive was discovered inside the attic area of the Community Living Center Dining Hall, a local bee expert was brought in. The bees were relocated to a new home 20 miles away from the medical center, and the honeycomb was removed and processed. This excess honeycomb produced more than 30 jars of (very) local honey for distribution to the veterans.
Erie Veterans Affairs Medical Center
52 Beds, 4 ORs
Erie Veterans Affairs Medical Center shows how sustainability activities and the veteran focus come together in the community. The facility reduced its energy use by 13 percent in one year and has a 7.5 percent renewable energy spend. It incorporated Green Guide for Health Care criteria into its 2016 construction projects, which totaled $25 million. These included low-VOC paints; ENERGY STAR-rated equipment; low-flow fixtures; formaldehyde-free wall coverings, insulation products and furniture; LED lighting; and a focus on natural daylighting. Energy conservation projects included an elevator upgrade, an LED lighting upgrade and a replacement boiler.
The facility accomplished its 25 percent reduction in meat procurement through reduced portion size and increased seafood offerings, and 70 percent of its meat is from animals raised without the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics. Nutrition & Food Services holds a Healthy Teaching Kitchen cooking class to teach healthier cooking and food purchasing. The hospital teamed up with a local food bank to co-host the first Produce Express, a mobile food pantry that supported more than 50 veterans and their families in need in 2016.
The care shown through environmental stewardship has improved environmental quality, reduced utility expenses and freed up additional resources to further improve the quality of care provided to the veterans it is so privileged to serve.
Gundersen Health System
La Crosse, Wisconsin
268 Beds, 35 ORs
Gundersen Health System was the first hospital to achieve energy independence in the United States by producing more energy that it uses. Its goal was achieved through a combination of efficiency and clean energy projects, and has resulted in saving more than $3 million annually through sustainability initiatives.
Even though Gundersen has achieved its energy independence, it continues to work for a cleaner environment. With a goal to reduce pharmaceutical waste in waterways, Gundersen tracks pharmaceutical use and reduction at the departmental level, and supports the state of Wisconsin in its understanding of this challenging waste stream. In the area of environmentally preferable purchasing, new contracts this year addressed ceiling tiles, chairs and laboratory stains. Gundersen is also trialing essential oils in place of chemical air fresheners in areas designated safe by its infection control, safety and nursing departments.
Gundersen’s successes extend beyond energy and the four walls of the facility. Gundersen is now sharing what it has learned with other organizations and at myriad events, including CleanMed, regional events and other speaking opportunities. This empowerment allows for programmatic maintenance and a brisker pace for new initiatives.
Hackensack Meridian Health Hackensack University Medical Center
Hackensack, New Jersey
691 Beds, 34 ORs
Hackensack Meridian Health Hackensack University Medical Center’s (UMC) goals include: 20 percent energy use reduction, 100 percent antibiotic-free meat, and 100 percent healthy interiors furnishings. HackensackUMC also continually demonstrates leadership on a national level through frequent speaking engagements and publications.
HackensackUMC’s focus on safer chemicals includes a 94 percent spend on targeted green cleaners, along with hand soaps free of the antimicrobials triclosan and triclocarban. A goal for a DEHP-free Neonatal Intensive Care Unit has resulted in reaching out to every product manufacturer to review whether products contain DEHP, updating a phaseout plan, and continuing work with HackensackUMC’s GPO to identify and replace any outstanding products that contain DEHP. A commitment to safer chemicals has been integrated into all purchasing decisions, with the latest focus on cubicle curtains.
The Food and Nutrition team achieved a 98 percent antibiotic-free meat rate and will be tackling seafood in 2017. Externally, HackensackUMC continues to engage and educate the community. In 2016, HackensackUMC was the main sponsor of “The Mother of All Baby Showers,” an event with more than 1,100 attendees. During the event, members of the Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center provided environmental health information, which included helpful tips as to what new moms can do to create a healthy environment for their babies.
Harborview Medical Center
413 Beds, 26 ORs
Harborview Medical Center has achieved a spot in the Top 25 for the fifth consecutive year and continues to cultivate a deep commitment to climate, community and healthier environments.
The hospital implemented seasonal menu planning, promotional strategies to encourage healthy eating and a “produce prescription” program for patients who utilize the SNAP program, and featured detailed information on food and its connection to local farmers. It has eliminated Styrofoam and transitioned to compostable or recyclable serviceware. Staff on the kitchen line are segregating food waste, monitoring food purchases, reviewing the previous week’s consumption and taking steps to reduce the overproduction of food. These activities resulted in a 27 percent reduction in food waste.
Harborview is also closely monitoring its greenhouse gas generation, including anesthetic gases, and has an active green revolving fund. Greenhouse gas reduction successes include a consolidation of courier services that reduced vehicle trips by 25 percent, the planned installation of PV solar arrays with a roof replacement in 2017, divestment from fossil fuels, a biking club, LED lighting replacement in operating rooms, alternative fuel for fleet vehicles and an 11 percent reduction in energy use intensity since baseline.
Hudson Hospital & Clinic
16 Beds, 3 ORs
Hudson Hospital & Clinic loves the color green. Each year, the green team leads staff on green and sustainability efforts. Some 2016 sustainability projects included replacing vacuum pumps with high-efficiency models, upgrading LED lighting, implementing temperature setbacks and creating heating system efficiency reports. These initiatives resulted in a 10 percent reduction in energy use from baseline. In the past five years, the hospital has reduced its water usage by 43 percent.
In 2016, Hudson also created a new policy for vehicle idling and updated its donation reuse guidelines. It also established a formal electric vehicle philosophy policy. Hudson’s environmentally preferable purchasing criteria have affected contracts across operations.
Hudson is committed to building high-performance, sustainable standards. The hospital’s medical office building has a keen focus on energy efficiency and includes a high-efficiency boiler with a thermal efficiency of 92.7 percent. The hospital has a community garden with honeybee hives, natural lighting, native prairie plantings and an 80 percent recycling rate for construction and demolition debris.
Next, Hudson Hospital is planning for potable and irrigation water reductions. Other future water conservation projects consist of installing low-flow faucet fixtures and turning irrigated garden space into a drought-tolerant prairie.
Iowa City VA Health Care System
Iowa City, Iowa
73 Beds, 7 ORs
A new addition to the Top 25, the Iowa City VA Health Care System excelled in various efforts ranging from energy and water conservation to healthier food services.
Nearly 37 percent of the hospital’s meat and poultry purchased for inpatient meals is from animals raised without the routine use of non-therapeutic antibiotics, and 49 percent of inpatient beverages were healthier options. Further, bottled water use with inpatient trays has been reduced, and water stations are being added to encourage reusable beverage container use. Also, reusable dishware and the implementation of an à la carte menu for inpatient areas provides food choices that inpatients favor, and prevents unwanted food items (possibly included in a standard meal) from being brought to inpatients and ultimately discarded. The facility’s regulated medical waste stream was reduced by 24 percent from 2012 to 2016, and the facility’s overall recycling rate for 2016 was 32 percent.
With a goal to reduce water use by 36 percent by 2025, water reduction is a must for VA facilities. As a result, native grasses and plantings are used in green spaces to further reduce the need of seasonal watering. Also, WaterSense low-flow faucets, showerheads, urinals and toilets have been installed wherever feasible.
The James E. Van Zandt VA Medical Center
51 Beds, 3 ORs
The James E. Van Zandt VA Medical Center uses the combined leverage of executive orders, the GEMS (Green Environmental Management System) structure, staff commitment and creativity to continuously push for environmental excellence.
The medical center offers nutritionally sound, local and sustainable foods to enhance its patient care while minimizing environmental impact. An on-site vegetable-producing Victory Garden, reusable serviceware and efforts to reduce food waste demonstrate a clear focus on healthy food systems. Waste and material management is a strength, with a 61 percent recycling rate and 2.4 percent regulated medical waste generation—resulting in an 11 percent reduction that has saved 33 percent in costs this year. Unannounced rounds maintain segregation practices.
With an impressive ENERGY STAR score, the facility has reduced energy use by 32 percent since its baseline year. Energy conservation projects include working with IT to power down nonessential computers overnight, an LED lighting retrofit and boiler retrofits. Plans are underway to add solar panels to a new addition.
The facility’s commitment is also matched with creativity: The “Ecology for Everyone” workbook for the staff’s children demonstrates the hospital’s creative approach to educating employees and community members.
Kaiser Permanente Vacaville Medical Center
140 Beds, 11 ORs
Kaiser Permanente Vacaville Medical Center earns special acknowledgement this year for its transition from a Partner Recognition Award in 2015 to a Top 25 Award in 2017. The hospital demonstrated success with a sustainability plan featuring ambitious goals and processes to achieve those goals, including comprehensive data collection and educational activities. An innovative “Gone For Good” partnership with United Cerebral Palsy of the North Bay employs adults with disabilities to collect and recycle various commodities and mixed recyclables throughout the hospital.
With a 51 percent sustainable food spend, 49 percent procurement of meat raised without the routine use of non-therapeutic antibiotics, a 35 percent reduction in meat procurement from baseline and a 4.5 percent reduction in food waste, Kaiser Permanente Vacaville Medical Center is making tremendous strides in its healthy food impact. Its focus on Less Food to Landfill includes food donation, composting and food preparation procedures that prevent food waste generation. An on-site garden produces vegetables, which further supports the medical center’s involvement in healthy food choices. An ENERGY STAR score of 72 is the result of a strategic energy master plan, retro-commissioning, recognition from EPEAT for energy-efficient IT purchasing, and energy management classes for its engineers and project personnel. An on-site solar array will also open by 2018.
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
New York, New York
473 Beds, 28 ORs
Providing sufficient resources to drive continuous environmental change and maintain success is a lesson that Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s leadership can share with others. They have a strong focus on greening the operating rooms at Memorial Hospital, with 100 percent of its surgical kits reformulated, 100 percent of its ORs equipped with HVAC setbacks to reduce energy during unoccupied hours, and 77 percent of its equipment sterilized in reusable containers—preventing the generation of difficult-to-recycle blue wrap.
The healthy food work is highlighted by a 71 percent spend on healthy beverages, 9 percent spend on sustainable food and 7 percent spend on local food. In addition, 70 percent of meat purchased is raised without the routine use of non-therapeutic antibiotics. Strategies include a sustainable food procurement policy and substituting meat with plant-based proteins.
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center is also committed to climate mitigation and resiliency with the City of New York. The hospital’s energy portfolio is comprised of 16 percent renewable energy, and energy-related greenhouse gas emissions have decreased 32 percent since 2007. Despite the challenges of an urban environment, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s far-reaching achievements have landed the facility in the Top 25 for the third year in a row.
Minneapolis VA Healthcare System
350 Beds, 21 ORs
While all VA sites follow executive orders that affect purchasing, the Minneapolis VA Healthcare System has a deep emphasis on safer chemicals and climate strategies. An ENERGY STAR score of 83 and 18 percent renewable energy from biomass and wind demonstrates its commitment to clean energy and energy conservation. A focus on responsible transportation includes participation in regional planning, vouchers for public transportation, bike racks and showers for staff, and shuttle and van share programs.
Its safer chemicals focus includes the use of ultraviolet disinfection and a 64 percent spend on green cleaning in five focus areas. The health system uses water for floor cleaning and has reduced floor-stripping chemicals by 85 percent. Officially mercury-free in 2016, the antimicrobials triclosan and triclocarban have been eliminated from hand soaps hospitalwide. The facility achieved a 50 percent spend on healthier furniture, replacing old furnishings and furniture and avoiding the use of flame retardants, formaldehyde, perfluorinated compounds, PVC and antimicrobials.
Four new water fountain stations with bottle-filling capabilities in key areas around the facility encourage employees and patients to use reusable bottles, drink more water and reduce waste. This action resulted in access to 108,792 liters of purified drinking water by staff during fiscal year 2016.
Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital
St. Louis Park, Minnesota
426 Beds, 19 ORs
Wondering what to do next? Take a lesson from Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital. Park Nicollet shines with powerful, creative, exciting and measurable goals. A goal to reduce paper use by 10 percent was surpassed with a 16 percent reduction. It accomplished a greenhouse gas audit and identified priority areas. Along with an ENERGY STAR score of 71, it accomplished two energy-efficiency projects with an annual savings of $50,000. A portion of the hospital’s energy was purchased from a community solar project, bringing its renewable energy to 6.7 percent of total energy use. Park Nicollet initiated a pharmaceutical take-back program and received a $50,000 grant from the county to develop an organics segregation program, which kicked off in conjunction with a focus on food waste reduction. The collection of organic waste was featured in Practice Greenhealth’s “Less Food to Landfill” toolkit. Polystyrene elimination, recyclable “to go” containers and 4.2 tons of fryer oil converted to biodiesel finish off the hospital’s innovative food waste strategies.
Research on bioplastics, development of a carbon footprint tool, calculated greenhouse gas reductions from telemedicine and education on the health impacts of climate change are all powerful outcomes from Park Nicollet’s sustainability internship program. When asked in an employee survey, 82 percent of staff was aware of the facility’s sustainability initiatives.
Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center
Charleston, South Carolina
170 Beds, 6 ORs
The Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center is new to the Top 25 and made its mark with a strong focus on chemical avoidance and energy use. With a 36 percent reduction in hazardous chemical purchases, this facility has emphasized toxicity prevention and worker health. An ENERGY STAR score of 90 and energy use intensity of 112 kBtus/square foot also makes the medical center one of the strongest energy performers in the Practice Greenhealth community.
The facility has impressive sustainability metrics across a range of areas, including 98 percent of its spend on furniture avoiding chemicals of concern and 84 percent of all cleaners meeting third-party criteria for green cleaning. The elimination of ethylene oxide, glutaraldehyde and pesticides round out the commitment to toxic chemical reduction at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center. The facility diverted more than 590 tons of solid waste from landfills, composted six tons of food waste and reduced the amount of regulated medical waste by 21 tons in 2016.
Energy conservation projects included an LED lighting upgrade and motion sensors for lighting in hallways. Employees have also taken sustainability to heart: Every day, 178 employees carpool to work, 134 employees ride in a van pool and 35 employees take public transportation.
Saint Paul, Minnesota
438 Beds, 30 ORs
Regions Hospital is watching its waste. While recycling and material management operations have been in place for several years, in 2016 the hospital assessed 1.6 million square feet of space, provided waste education and expanded single stream recycling in the food services arena. A new shrink-wrap recycling program was implemented, which—along with blue wrap recycling—resulted in 1,200 pounds of shrink wrap and 6.75 tons of blue wrap recycled in 2016. The result of all these activities contributes to the hospital’s current 25 percent recycling rate.
The facility refinishes and recovers doors and cabinetry for reuse. In 2016 it extended the life of more than 240 furniture assets through reupholstering and refinishing efforts. Regions Hospital partners with a not-for-profit organization, Matter, to donate and provide materials, supplies, instruments and equipment to missions. Aggressive paper reduction strategies led to a 17.2 percent reduction in paper use from a 2014 baseline.
The hospital donated more than 100 tons of food waste last year for animal feed. In the laboratory setting, 1,209 gallons of waste laboratory xylene and formalin were distilled for reuse, resulting in $10,700 in savings through avoided purchase costs, and $10,500 in savings from avoided waste fees. The hospital’s commitment to continuous quality improvement is evident in its outstanding programs in 2016.
334 Beds, 14 ORs
Seattle Children’s continuously strives for more ways to connect the health of children and families to environmental health. Its award-winning transportation program uses a suite of incentives to move its staff from driving alone to alternative commute methods such as buses, carpooling or biking to work. Staffers receive a deeply discounted transit card, free shuttle service to transit sites and personalized commute trip assistance, along with a daily financial bonus for alternative commuting. The bike program offers free bikes, an on-site bike service center and safety classes.
One of the first hospitals to commit to Practice Greenhealth’s Less Food to Landfill goal, the facility has been composting food waste for many years. In 2016, it opened a new sustainably designed commercial kitchen, implemented room service dining and transitioned to scratch cooking with whole ingredients. All of this has led to a 10 percent reduction in food waste generation from the hospital’s baseline year. The on-site organic gardens include a small demonstration garden for children to explore, a teaching garden to support clinical programing and a production garden supplying produce to the kitchen. And the hospital is the first in the United States to earn Salmon Safe certification, reflecting its commitment to environmental stewardship.
Southern Arizona VA Health Care System
285 Beds, 13 ORs
Southern Arizona VA Health Care System boasts the highest ENERGY STAR rating of the Top 25 with a 97. Numerous on-site solar projects generate 6.9 million kWh and 13.4 percent of its energy needs. Water usage decreased by 7.9 percent from baseline in 2016, which was attributed to several projects, including boiler modifications that saved more than 7 million gallons, along with a new irrigation strategy that cut water use by 2.2 million gallons. Additionally, five new water-bottle filling stations were installed, 40 percent of showerheads and faucets were replaced with low-flow fixtures, and all new plants and trees used in landscaping were desert-native, drought-resistant varieties.
Southern Arizona VA achieved a 100 percent spend on green-certified cleaning chemicals for the five target categories, with an 81 percent green spend on all cleaners and soaps at the facility. The facility has a Memorandum of Understanding with the Garden Kitchen at the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, which, as a seed-to-table program, aims to increase families’ food security by teaching community members the basics of growing their own food and shopping on a budget. Members from this group give lectures on healthy foods and provide cooking classes at weight-loss support groups.
St. Cloud VA Health Care System
St. Cloud, Minnesota
388 Beds, 3 ORs
The St. Cloud VA Health Care System has taken a spot in the Top 25 for the second time with a diverse and expansive demonstration of environmental commitment, including an ENERGY STAR score of 94. Its Greening the OR initiative is in full swing, starting off with a plan, a team and an assessment of greenhouse gases generated through anesthetics. Successes include fluid management, plastics recycling, 83 percent of kits sterilized in reusable hard cases, an HVAC setback program, LED lighting and removal of the anesthetic desflurane from the formulary.
St. Cloud VA reduced its water use by 30 percent from its baseline year and has far exceeded the median range for award winners. In 2016, the facility completed a laundry project that includes a wastewater heat recovery system. The plate heat exchanger is innovative and efficient, and preheats both hot and cold water to the highest temperatures possible. Since the completion of this project, it has reduced water use in the laundry by 15,746 gallons per month. Water-efficient fixtures, ongoing leak maintenance and drought-tolerant plantings were key in its water conservation goal achievement. How fitting that with a name like St. Cloud, the health system embodies the need to demonstrate leadership in water use and conservation.
University of Washington Medical Center
444 Beds, 28 ORs
University of Washington (UW) Medical Center recognizes the power of goal-setting. Its goals include 60 percent hazardous waste reduction as well as carbon neutrality strategies. With an ENERGY STAR score of 74, the hospital reduced its energy use by 4.6 percent from baseline. Environmentally preferable purchasing is important to the hospital. The UW Medicine Reprocessing Task Force standardized and expanded the reprocessing program to reduce costs and prevent unnecessary landfill waste. As a result, the purchase of reprocessed devices increased by 40 percent. Another project focused on reducing the opening of supplies that are not required, saving $466,000 in 2016 as a result.
The facility connects healthy food with clinical outcomes and hosted a meeting with Health Care Without Harm and infectious disease physicians to provide education on antibiotic use in animal agriculture. It purchases directly through a local food hub, with a 27 percent local spend and 32 percent sustainable spend. With a commitment to 100 percent meat raised without the routine use of non-therapeutic antibiotics, it is now at 74 percent.
Empowerment and education strategies include Green Office certification, green bag luncheons, commitment pledges and a speaker circuit. The hospital also hosts 38 professional continuing-education hours for sustainability education and multiple educational forums each year.
The University of Vermont Medical Center
429 Beds, 19 ORs
From grassroots recycling initiatives to executive-led strategic planning, the University of Vermont (UVM) Medical Center believes in a holistic approach to greening its operations. Upholding its commitment to waste reduction, the organization achieved a 39 percent recycling rate in 2016. The Nurse Recycling Champions, who volunteer to promote proper waste sorting in their units, toured the local waste provider’s facility as part of ongoing staff engagement and education. Other efforts to reduce waste include a robust blue-wrap recycling program and a nationally recognized single-use device reprocessing program.
The facility’s healthy food program also continues to flourish. The Health Care Shares program provided fully subsidized farm shares to 100 families who experience food insecurity. The facility also co-hosted a Healthy Food in Health Care winter strategy session for regional food service and health care professionals.
Dedicated to environmental education and positively impacting the community, the UVM Medical Center’s sustainability efforts extend beyond facility walls. In 2016, environmental champions presented on sustainable design, waste and green anesthesia at events throughout the region. The organization also participated in the Way to Go! Commuter Challenge (a local carbon reduction initiative), supported a community bike path rehabilitation project and continued to play an integral role in a district energy study.
Virginia Mason Hospital & Seattle Medical Center
336 Beds, 22 ORs
Virginia Mason Hospital & Seattle Medical Center has established itself as a leader in health care sustainability, with consistent placement in the Top 25 and as a repeat Circle of Excellence winner in several focus areas. Strong foundational policies, leadership engagement, designated funding mechanisms, and strong committee and reporting structures make for a solid program, with SMART goals established for continuous momentum. All staff use Virginia Mason’s lean production system to reduce waste in all forms, including waste that impacts the environment and human health.
The hospital leveraged Practice Greenhealth’s Engaged Leadership Challenge to identify champions, present at Grand Rounds and increase overall clinical engagement, as well as move toward establishing a formal internship program. In 2016, it set aside $100,000 for energy-efficiency projects, which funded an LED lighting upgrade in its garages and in the stairwells of one of the main buildings. With anesthetic gas management at the top of health care’s to-do list, Virginia Mason leads the way, with the near elimination of the anesthetic desflurane, and the calculation of greenhouse gases generated through anesthesia.
As Brenna Davis, sustainability lead for the hospital, embarks on a new chapter, sustainability is rooted firmly within Virginia Mason Hospital & Seattle Medical Center’s healing mission.