Presenting the Top Environmental Excellence Award Winners

By Practice Greenhealth Staff on May 13, 2016

SPR16_PGH_FeatureLetter_EEA_Awards2016_LogoAdvocate Christ Medical Center East Tower

Advocate Christ Medical Center

Oak Lawn, Illinois
659 staffed beds and 44 ORs

Advocate Christ Medical Center’s new East Tower was designed using an integrated lean project delivery process and opened for patients in January 2016. Up for LEED for Healthcare Silver certification, its design brings together many sustainable aspects such as rainwater harvesting, an enhanced visual connection to nature, and increased connections between physical and spiritual well-being. One of the project’s critical strategies was to expand the existing structure vertically by four floors with no disruption to operations, complementing a long-range master plan for campus growth.

The building’s glass skin now generates 54 percent daylight autonomy, and various energy- and water-efficient features will result in estimated reductions of 26 percent to energy use and 30 percent in water use over a baseline measurement. The structure incorporates a 500-ton absorption chiller, two 200-ton chillers, and a more than 30-year-old, 1,600-ton R16 chiller. The new chillers use significantly less energy and environmentally-friendly refrigerant, saving nearly 11 million kBtus or 3.17 million kilowatt hours (kWh) annually. The East Tower’s design also includes low-flow urinals, toilets, sinks and additional equipment to meet LEED water requirements.

The East Tower features an all-new dining experience that promises significant reductions in food waste and energy use, as well as encouraging increased patient satisfaction by providing room service and higher-quality meals. The new “Better for Us” meal program at Advocate includes the introduction of meat raised without the routine use of non-therapeutic antibiotics and a healthier beverage program to enhance the dining experience for patients, visitors and staff.

Advocate Good Samaritan HospitalAdvocate Good Samaritan Hospital

Downers Grove, Illinois
324 staffed beds and 17 ORs

Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital has a track record of environmental stewardship. In 2015, the green team worked with key leadership throughout the hospital to achieve significant strides in minimizing the hospital’s environmental footprint.

The hospital uses a systemwide dashboard to monitor green spending, energy utilization, waste and construction recycling, and use of environmentally-friendly cleaning supplies. In 2015, the hospital achieved measureable improvements such as a 91 percent increase in the use of green cleaning products, an 84 percent increase in the recycling of construction and demolition debris, and a 2 percent reduction in paper purchasing. It also accomplished and exceeded all 23 goals of the Healthier Hospitals Engaged Leadership Challenge, which focuses on reducing energy and chemical use, as well as increasing availability of healthy foods. The hospital received a 76 ENERGY STAR rating using the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager.

The green team empowers departments to promote a culture of conservation and environmental stewardship. This year, 50 departments have been certified for the Sustainable Workspace program, which offers a checklist of ways to recycle and reduce waste and energy use. While each department works on a variety of projects, the hospital has made significant strides in the operating room by adding LED lighting and 50 percent more reusable sterilization containers. It has also reviewed 100 percent of OR instrument case kits.

New in 2015 was a focus on the Healthier Hospitals Healthier Food Challenge’s “Less Meat, Better Meat” initiative , which resulted in meatless Mondays and daily vegetarian options in the cafeteria and on patient menus. The cafeteria continued to offer affordable, healthy meals with meat from animals raised without the use of non-therapeutic antibiotics, and eliminated sugar-sweetened beverages by replacing them with low- and no-sugar-added alternatives. Associates were invited to educational “lunch ’n’ learns” to taste-test new products.

The hospital also launched a new program called Chairs on Parade, which repurposed chairs from the Auxiliary’s resale store on campus. Associates and volunteers decorated the chairs using a variety of recycled items in themes including Christmas, birthday party and wine appreciation, and even designed a time-out chair. The chairs were sold at a silent auction, with the proceeds funding the hospital’s charitable foundation.

In addition, the facilities department and green team enhanced campus landscaping to include drought-resistant plants that require less water. Irrigation sensors are in place to maintain proper watering levels, and a wetlands area was redesigned to ensure cleaner drainage into area streams.

Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical CenterAdvocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center

338 staffed beds and 18 ORs

Advocate Illinois Masonic is known for its leadership in energy efficiency, boasting a 94 ENERGY STAR score. The hospital’s sustainability report and integration into the community telegraphs a deep belief in the connection between planetary and human health. The system’s goals, associated policies and dashboards are met at the local level with on-the-ground action and performance demonstration.

A 94 percent spend on green cleaners (in the top 90th percentile of award winners), leadership in healthy interiors and avoidance of Healthier Hospitals’ chemicals of concern in furniture demonstrate Advocate Illinois Masonic’s commitment to safer chemicals. It has strengths in waste minimization, the Less Meat, Better Meat program, healthy beverages, greening the OR, environmentally preferable purchasing, and water and energy conservation.

Recognizing the emerging concern about water as a valuable resource, Advocate Illinois Masonic has been an early adopter of water conservation strategies, achieving a 13 percent reduction from baseline, including a million-gallon reduction through a closed-loop condenser project. The hospital’s 19 gallons of water use per square foot outperforms 90 percent of award-winning facilities. The facility is also tracking its total greenhouse gas reductions, and applies a sustainable design standard to all new construction and renovations.

Beaumont Hospital – Royal Oak Beaumont Hospital – Royal Oak

Royal Oak, Michigan
1,070 staffed beds and 47 ORs

The leadership at Beaumont Hospital – Royal Oak set a goal to win the Top 25 Practice Greenhealth Environmental Excellence Awards. Its publicly available environmental stewardship report highlights the facility’s journey and recent accomplishments, including 68 percent healthier beverage spend, 23 percent local and sustainable food spend, a farmers market and the donation of surplus food. Staff volunteers including a master gardener and composter created a teaching garden where eligible occupational therapy patients prune, weed and harvest. Community events include medication and sharps take-back events.

An early adopter of safer chemicals, Beaumont has achieved mercury-free status, an 84 percent spend on greener cleaners, integrated pest management and a reduction of chemicals of concern in furniture, and now continues to concentrate on eliminating the DEHP and PVC from the neonatal intensive care unit, pediatrics, mother/baby care and family birth center. The hospital recently screened the documentary film Toxic Hot Seat to highlight the history of flame retardants and chemicals in furniture and fabrics with the local fire marshal and fire department in attendance. Beaumont’s success has been featured in Healthier Hospitals’ case studies.

Beaumont’s commitment to the environment is also a demonstration of a commitment to its people. University of Michigan graduate students helped improve employee engagement by identifying key priority areas such as submetering energy use and the creation of a green roof. The system boasts some 700 green officers, 11 LEED-certified experts and two Ecology Center Health Leader Fellows, who serve as green ambassadors inside the hospital and in the community.

Bon Secours Eastside CampusBon Secours St. Francis Eastside

Greenville, South Carolina
91 staffed beds and 12 ORs

Bon Secours St. Francis Eastside pushed its way back into the Top 25 after winning in 2014. Driven by a passionate, enthusiastic leader, St. Francis continues to identify opportunities for improvement while also providing mentoring and support to sister hospitals and other health systems.

Energy reduction is an obvious area of achievement for St. Francis Eastside; it is the first hospital in South Carolina to receive the ENERGY STAR, with a current score of 82 out of 100 and an impressive energy use intensity of 200.4 kBtus per square foot. Upgrades to chillers, boilers and LED lighting will net the hospital a savings of $202,640 in 2015 alone and an energy reduction of more than 6 million kBtus each year. The facility is also an active participant in a corporate water reduction campaign that benchmarks water use and uses the data to set reduction targets. St. Francis has already reduced water 8.5 percent from its 2011 baseline, but is eager to go further.

Bon Secours St. Francis Eastside has a deep level of staff engagement, evidenced by the plethora of innovative programs it rolls out each year. Maintaining more than a 30 percent recycling rate, keeping RMW to just 6.3 percent, recycling clinical plastics, composting food waste, and repurposing and reusing furniture, the hospital has established strong priorities when it comes to waste reduction.

St. Francis has achieved 76.4 percent of total beverage spend on healthier, non-sugary beverages and says that 36.8 percent of its meat and poultry spend buys products raised without the use of non-therapeutic antibiotics—an important factor in fighting antibiotic-resistant organisms. A strong environmentally-preferable purchasing policy highlights a focus on the elimination of key chemicals of concern, and the hospital continues to make progress in driving the use of green cleaning chemicals and healthier building materials and furniture.

Bon Secours St. Mary’s HospitalBon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital

Richmond, Virginia
391 staffed beds and 24 ORs

This is the first year Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital has entered the Top 25. Like the three other hospitals in the Bon Secours Richmond Health System and broader Bon Secours Health System Inc., it achieves strong numbers for recycling and RMW reduction—38.9 percent recycling and a 6.5 percent reduction in RMW.

St. Mary’s also boasts a strong culture of engagement, and has been building an impressive sustainable food program. The hospital serves only rBgh hormone-free milk and yogurt, offers cage-free eggs, spends 84.7 percent of its beverage budget on healthier, non-sugary beverages, and has a dedicated focus to serving meat and poultry raised without the use of non-therapeutic antibiotics—an outstanding 34 percent of its total spend in the product category. St. Mary’s also composts more than 35 tons of food waste each year.

St. Mary’s has a 10 percent energy-reduction goal and is supported by a strong corporate Energy Management Council, as well as a newly initiated Green Revolving Fund (GRF). The hospital has a robust, environmentally-preferable purchasing policy that targets avoidance of key chemicals of concern, and has also made progress in eliminating the use of products containing DEHP in its neonatal intensive care unit and the rest of the hospital. Bon Secours St. Mary’s says its commitment to ecological stewardship reflects a deepening of its mission, vision and values, and has demonstrated that mission through its successes.

Cleveland Clinic, Main CampusCleveland Clinic, Main Campus

1,440 staffed beds and 86 ORs 

Cleveland Clinic maintains its spot in the Top 25 this year with industry-leading programs in chemicals, climate, the OR and green building. Cleveland Clinic’s sustainability leadership supports healthy environments for healthy communities, and is based on the understanding that environmental health and human health are inherently linked. With a goal of achieving 20 percent energy reduction from its 2010 baseline by 2020, the 2016 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year has already achieved a 12.3 percent reduction against its weather-normalized source energy use intensity since 2010.

In addition to achieving LEED certification for all construction projects on its massive campus since 2007, Cleveland Clinic is also pursuing the Well Building Standard for two projects in 2015. Observing green building standards helps health care delivery spaces support healthy people, Cleveland Clinic says, and it excels on building projects, with 80 percent construction and demolition debris recycling. Another important focus is avoiding chemicals of concern in its furnishings, and Cleveland Clinic has been able to reach 50 percent spend on products meeting its new criteria.

Cleveland Clinic’s leadership structure continues to evolve as its goals expand, and a committee structure matches champions of climate, greening the OR, labs and Environment of Care initiatives. Its newly created Zero Waste Committee is focused on an aggressive goal of 50 percent recycling, and the ultimate goal of reducing overall waste. Cleveland Clinic continues to set the bar in terms of bringing awareness to climate and health issues in its own practice, and through participation in the Health Care Without Harm Climate Council and events such as the 2015 White House Summit on Climate Change and Public Health.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical CenterDartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center

Lebanon, New Hampshire
417 staffed beds and 36 ORs

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center has a mature sustainability program, including a Sustainability Council that’s manned by operational leaders, clinicians, community and patient representatives and chaired by its chief financial officer. The facility’s Board of Trustees recently endorsed an aspirational set of 2020 goals across seven sustainability domains, with sample goals including powering new buildings with non-fossil fuels, purchasing only chicken raised without the use of non-therapeutic antibiotics, and reducing total pounds of waste by 10 percent.

Last year’s recipient of the Greening the OR Award, DHMC has continued to demonstrate success by recycling 16 tons of medical plastics and collecting more than eight tons of SUDs. The facility saved $1.5 million on surgical kit analysis, including reductions in items and labor costs. The OR replaced disposable foam elbow pads used for patient positioning with reusable gel pads, reduced the use of the inhaled anesthetic desflurane and tracks green house gas emissions from all inhaled anesthetics.

DHMC has eliminated sugar-sweetened beverages in its retail areas and has forged deep connections with the local farming community, increasing local and sustainable food purchases every year. In 2015, DHMC partnered with a local co-op grocer and guaranteed the purchase of enough beef sausage to allow a local farmer to invest in new equipment.

DHMC is also committed to mitigating climate change; it has set a goal to reduce GHG emissions by 25 percent and joined the Health Care Climate Council. The center’s new research building recently received LEED Silver certification, and DHMC is moving forward with its first solar installation. A new hospice building planned for 2017 will be heated and cooled geothermally.

Erie VA Medical CenterErie VA Medical Center

Erie, Pennsylvania
60 staffed beds and 3 ORs

The Erie VA Medical Center serves more than 21,000 veterans with a range of primary, specialty and behavioral health care services. Erie VAMC was awarded both Energy and Water Circles of Excellence awards in 2015, and continued its outstanding work last year, boasting a weather-normalized EUI metric of 221 and water consumption of only 18.5 gallons per square foot of facility space.

Erie VAMC implemented an unusual energy efficiency project last year, replacing four 1950s-era elevators with new, energy-efficient units. The motor drives on the new elevators use about 50 percent less energy than the originals, and the new elevators employ a regenerative-drive braking system that allows the AC motor to operate as a generator to convert mechanical energy into electrical energy. This reduces the net energy used and the amount of heat radiated into the building, and is expected to save an additional 10 percent on energy. An added health benefit? The facility’s “Move” program, combined with longer wait times for elevators during construction, convinced many staff to use the stairs.

Erie VAMC also constructed a stormwater retention facility underneath its new parking garage to allow rainwater to slowly infiltrate into a lawn area after each precipitation event while preventing sediment and suspended solids from entering the municipal stormwater sewer system. This and other efforts have improved environmental quality, reduced utility expenses and freed up resources, ultimately improving the quality of care provided to veterans.

Gundersen Health SystemGundersen Health System

La Crosse, Wisconsin
268 staffed beds and 35 ORs

Making headlines wasn’t hard for Gundersen Health System when it announced it would seek energy independence by 2014. In 2015, it produced more than 41 million kWh of clean, renewable electricity for the grid it operates, a 58 percent increase from the previous year. November 2015 was the first full month of energy independence for Gundersen Health System, with 72 days of total energy independence in 2015.

Gundersen Health System participates heavily in HCWH’s Climate Council. With a great understanding of climate implications, its board of directors decided to limit future investment in fossil fuels, and offered employees the choice of a “socially responsible” fund that invests in cleaner energies in 401(k) retirement portfolios.

This adds to a list of activities Gundersen completed in 2015, which includes working with the EPA and DEA to develop its Witness Waste program, operating public medication drop-off boxes at three clinics, championing nurse engagement, and training the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in RCRA hazardous waste audits.

Gundersen Health’s goals are equally broad, with engagement efforts that “think downstream” to the supply chain. Gundersen goes beyond the OR in clinical recycling, and has engaged in the Greening the Laboratory program to reduce hazardous laboratory chemicals disposed down drains by 95 percent.

Ribbon cutting ceremony at Hackensack HospitalHackensack University Medical Center

Hackensack, New Jersey
691 staffed beds and 34 ORs

Hackensack University Medical Center, in collaboration with the Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center®, continues to be a leader in environmental stewardship. This is the third consecutive year it has been awarded a Top 25 Environmental Excellence Award.

HackensackUMC supports the health of the community, and proves its leadership with an innovative sustainability certification program for staff. Its success demonstrates that sustainability is everyone’s job, and HackensackUMC lends financial support to improvement initiatives affecting energy conservation, waste reduction, chemical minimization and healthier diets.

HackensackUMC’s program for environmentally preferable purchasing includes working with suppliers, group purchasing organizations and distributors. Its purchasing department green team meets bimonthly to ensure that sustainability is considered in all purchases. Reprocessing savings doubled in 2015 over the prior year, and value analysis work has allowed HackensackUMC to initiate a vendor diaper packaging recycling initiative, as well as decrease DEHP and PVC use, starting in the NICU. A safer chemicals policy includes the purchase of only 100 percent flame retardant free furniture.

HackensackUMC’s healthier food program includes:

  • Establishing a population health retail dining strategy committee, chaired by the hospital’s chief human resources officer.
  • Switching to 100 percent of chicken and turkey products raised without routine antibiotic use (“no antibiotics ever” label claim verified by USDA Process Verified Program).
  • Eliminating sugar-sweetened beverages from all retail dining areas.

HackensackUMC recognizes that a systemic approach to environmental stewardship and population health includes advocating for more effective regulations and a business culture in which climate action is essential to protecting the community. The center conducted a climate risk assessment to guide future goal-setting and plans, participated in the White House Climate Action Council and signed the Global Green and Healthy Hospitals 2020 Challenge.

Harborview Medical CenterHarborview Medical Center

413 staffed beds and 26 ORs

As part of the UW Medicine health system, Harborview Medical Center has created a culture of sustainability that views human health and environmental health as one and the same. Harborview is proud to promote this culture internally and externally, with full support at all levels of the organization.

Harborview is making progress in achieving all six of the Healthier Hospitals Challenges. For example, in support of environmentally preferable purchasing (EPP), Harborview has established a list of materials of concern, criteria for environmental impact considerations, and a questionnaire to assess each supplier’s environmental impact. Through these policies, Harborview is also using its purchasing power to make the market more sustainable for the entire hospital sector.

Harborview’s meticulous waste-segregation work has resulted in an impressive recycling rate of 38.83 percent of total waste, compared to the 29.8 percent median of 2015 award winners. Harborview has partnered with the City of Seattle, and has committed to meeting the city’s goal of a 70 percent recycling rate by 2022. This work includes furniture and medical plastics recycling programs, paper reduction strategies, single-use device reprocessing, and many other intuitive and interconnected waste-reduction programs.

Harborview is also working to reduce the purchase and use of harmful chemicals by eliminating the use of formaldehyde, perfluorinated compounds, PVC, antimicrobials, and flame retardants in hospital furniture. Currently, 70.6 percent of Harborview’s furniture purchasing is allocated to compound-free furnishings.

Littleton Adventist HospitalLittleton Adventist Hospital

Littleton, Colorado
201 staffed beds and 13 ORs

Littleton Adventist Hospital cruises into the Top 25 for the third year in a row, demonstrating that sustainability and environmental stewardship are ingrained into its organizational culture. From senior executive engagement to the orientation of new associates, employees at Littleton Adventist Hospital understand their role in creating a high-performance healing environment.

Littleton Adventist Hospital continues to improve its performance in key sustainability areas such as recycling and energy use, achieving a 42.9 percent recycling rate in 2015 (up from 34.4 percent the previous year) and an impressive ENERGY STAR score of 73 out of 100 (up from 70 in 2014). At the same time, it has also taken on the more complex challenges of focused pharmaceutical waste reduction, prohibiting the disposal of pharmaceuticals to the drain, and concentrated on the exploration of renewable energy partnerships.

Littleton Adventist Hospital is committed to modeling a healthy, sustainable food system for its patients, visitors and employees. The hospital has made significant strides in meat reduction—cutting 19.6 percent since its baseline year of 2013—and 27.1 percent of its meat and poultry are raised without the use of non-therapeutic antibiotics. Moving away from sugary beverages and from bottled to filtered water stations, the “Leverage Your Beverage” program further demonstrates the hospital’s commitment to wellness. Its comprehensive program to prevent or compost food waste leads the sector, and Littleton Adventist Hospital is also embarking on a collaboration with Denver Water to establish baselines and targets for the year ahead, signifying an organizational commitment to further growth and sustainability.

Marymount Hospital staffMarymount Hospital, a Cleveland Clinic hospital

170 staffed beds and 14 ORs

This first-time Top 25 hospital worked hard to ensure its spot on this year’s list, and a strong, engaged green team was an important factor in its success. Marymount Hospital’s vice president of clinical and support services sponsors the green team and advocated for the development of a sustainability charter endorsed by the Medical Executive Committee and Management Council to guide the way.

Under its Emerging Leaders program, Marymount Hospital continues to push toward a 50 percent recycling goal. With 31 pounds of waste per patient day and less than 5 percent RMW, this hospital embodies the zero-waste mindset. It is transforming its culture on the path toward an energy reduction goal of 20 percent by 2020, with 84 percent of employees signing an Energy Pledge to do their part. The commitment to energy reduction also shows in a major LEED Gold renovation project that included construction and demolition debris recycling, natural daylighting strategies, LED lighting, and a new Help Us Support Healing (HUSH) program that employs daylighting and afternoon quiet hours to encourage patient healing.

Marymount Hospital shows that it understands the alignment of sustainability with wellness in achieving a nearly 60 percent healthy beverage spend, making a commitment to buy local foods through Green City Growers, hosting farmers markets and organizing walks for employees in community parks. The hospital integrates the community into its work through initiatives such as Helping Hands, which has recycled and donated more than 1,000 books to community schools, and through pet supply recycling and donations to pet shelters in the community.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Green Team MembersMemorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

New York City
473 staffed beds and 28 ORs

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s sustainability program focuses on reducing its impact on the environment while promoting the health of the patients, staff and community it serves. MSK has established goals in waste, chemical, water and energy reduction, and promotes community health by supporting local food purchasing and donating materials for reuse.

MSK donated more than 10,300 pounds of ice packs to New York City’s Citymeals on Wheels; nearly 21 tons of medical supplies, equipment and furniture to the Afya Foundation for distribution in medically underserved communities abroad; and 1,939 pounds of similar items to nonprofits in New York City. The center also donates the mostly plastic contents of reusable sharps containers, which are sterilized and upcycled to manufacture a plastic lumber product.

The research laboratories of the Sloan Kettering Institute also launched a Green Labs Certification Program that includes energy and waste reduction components as well as advanced recycling strategies in the lab. Xylene is distilled and reused, for example, and many automated systems are in place to reduce chemical use and waste. It has comprehensive, evolving programs for EPP, and 75 percent of furniture spending goes toward furnishings free of chemicals of concern.

MSK cut more than 76 tons of waste and 663,681 kWh in energy use from operating rooms last year, saving more than $270,000. A fluid management system reduced 53.4 tons of RMW, saving $10,000. Rigid sterilization containers proved their worth, with 73 percent of kits in hard cases saving almost $170,000, 23 tons of waste and 1,452 hours of staff time. MSK shows that close measurement of costs and reduction of environmental impacts in daily operations can yield great savings.

Metro Health HospitalMetro Health Hospital

Wyoming, Michigan
208 staffed beds and 10 ORs

Engagement isn’t uncharted territory in sustainability at Metro Health Hospital. It has instituted a rotating program in which employees engage with the community through events such as Wardrobe for Work, where employees donate business clothes to individuals affected by domestic violence, a Community Clean Up Day dedicated to eliminating litter, and drug and mercury take-back programs.

Metro Health Hospital runs a volunteer garden known as the Metro Garden. The 3,600-square-foot lot yields 1,500 pounds of produce while connecting with youth gardening and cooking classes through the local YMCA. It doesn’t stop there—on-site executive chef Ryan Reynolds and the rest of his colleagues in the Food and Nutrition Services department host a series of classes and events that are open to the public. “Cooking with the Cardiologist” and Tuscan Pizza Building are programs in which organic produce and wellness are infused into the curriculum.

While competing in the 2015 Michigan Battle of the Buildings, Metro Health Hospital won praise and recognition for energy reduction efforts that included a robust array of metering and controls with upgraded infrastructure elements such as LED lighting. This adds to the site’s exemplary LEED standards in construction development, the six available charging stations, and two beehives near the campus that promote local pollination. Further, Metro Health Hospital is exploring the implications of climate change and assessing engagement opportunities to strengthen its strong environmental performance, since it has mitigated many types of waste to improve the health of the community.

Minneapolis VA Healthcare SystemMinneapolis VA Healthcare System

Minneapolis, Minnesota
350 staffed beds and 23 ORs

The Minneapolis VA Healthcare System is a shining example of how federal health care facilities are leveraging executive orders and the Veterans Health Administration’s commitment to craft industry-leading sustainability programs. Accountability for environmental programs is required at all levels of the hospital, from the medical center director, service chiefs and managers to the front-line employees. A highly effective, 24-person green team helps keep programs innovative. The hospital’s waste programs more than qualify for top honors, with a 4.9 percent RMW rate, a 38.3 percent recycling rate, and more than a 50 percent diversion from landfills when recycling of construction and demolition debris is included. The facility also composted more than 47 tons of food waste last year.

In addition to its stellar waste programs, Minneapolis VA excels at energy reduction, with an ENERGY STAR score of 83 and a 2015 HVAC upgrade project that’s estimated to save more than 1.6 million kWhs, 1,265 metric tons of carbon emissions and $167,483 annually. The facility also purchases renewable energy from the grid for a portion of its energy usage.

On the waterfront, the hospital has implemented rain gardens and other measures, resulting in a savings of more than 750,000 gallons of irrigation water each year. The Minneapolis VA stands out as an early leader on climate change mitigation and resiliency planning, and is one of the few hospitals to track greenhouse gas emissions—including emissions from anesthetic waste gases. The Minneapolis VA will likely remain at the front of the pack in the years to come.

NorthShore University HealthSystem Evanston Hospital NorthShore University HealthSystem Evanston Hospital

Evanston, Illinois
306 staffed beds and 20 ORs

NorthShore University HealthSystem Evanston Hospital is making its first appearance on the Top 25 hospitals list this year. Under its core mission to “preserve and improve human life,” NorthShore has established a sustainability structure that includes regular organizational updates, operates a corporate dashboard that monitors sustainability metrics, and assesses key leaders on sustainability goals in performance evaluations.

Evanston Hospital collects employee feedback through an internal Web page, where the green team is currently receiving positive feedback for eliminating polystyrene from cafeteria and patient meals, recycling and reusing laboratory solvents through distillation, expanding the use of green cleaning chemicals and technology, and spearheading community-based pharmaceutical take-back events. Illinois’ LINK food stamp program received a matching grant from the hospital for use at the Evanston farmers market, enabling participants to purchase $60 of locally grown food for $30.

Multiple energy efficiency projects have helped Evanston Hospital reduce energy consumption 7.8 percent from its baseline year’s energy use intensity. The four-hospital NorthShore University HealthSystem is taking that progress to the next level by matching the statutory percent renewable energy commitment, which includes 7 percent renewable energy credits for Evanston Hospital. Another area of focus has been to reduce overall water consumption, which the hospital has already brought down to 43 gallons per square foot. By increasing cooling water management efficiency, Evanston Hospital was able to save 317,132 gallons of water last year, saving approximately $3,000 in water and sewer costs.

Seattle Children’s HospitalSeattle Children’s Hospital

316 staffed beds and 14 ORs

Seattle Children’s Hospital has a longstanding sustainability program built on the premise that all children deserve a healthy environment, and is pleased to be named in the Top 25 Environmental Excellence Awards for the second year in a row. Seattle Children’s sustainability program has strong leadership support, and its green teams lead the charge for front-line initiatives.

The hospital’s campus includes organic teaching and production gardens, an accessible rooftop garden, and a green roof for stormwater protection. The hospital’s eight-story Building Hope expansion and Seattle Children’s Clinic and Surgery Center in Bellevue, Washington, are both LEED Gold certified. The hospital’s robust waste program boasts a 38 percent recycling rate that includes clinical plastics, food waste composting and electronics recovery. And its paper reduction initiative and pharmaceutical waste programs are interdisciplinary and innovative.

Recognizing that climate change represents a major pediatric health threat, Seattle Children’s Hospital joined the Health Care Climate Council. It sees a direct connection between asthma hospital admission rates, air pollution and the transportation choices of its workforce. Through innovative transportation management programs, the hospital has made tremendous strides in reducing carbon emissions, with only 37.4 percent of its employees driving alone to work this year, down from 78 percent in 1995.

Seattle Children’s Hospital is committed to further minimizing its environmental impact to improve the health and well-being of its patients, families, workforce, and its local and global community.

St. Cloud VA Health Care SystemSt. Cloud VA Health Care System

St. Cloud, Minnesota
388 staffed beds and 3 ORs

Since opening in 1924, the mission of the St. Cloud VA Health Care System (SCVAHCS) has remained constant: to honor America’s veterans by providing exceptional health care that improves their health and well-being.

In 2015, SCVAHCS reached a 56 percent recycling rate through waste reduction and education. Awareness and engagement of all services resulted in a purchasing reduction of 73 cases of copy paper. Each service line developed and implemented service-specific reduction action plans, and together reduced paper use by 365,000 sheets and shredding by 824,000 sheets.

SCVAHCS leverages employee orientation as an opportunity to promote waste reduction. It has developed a waste segregation game, trained new nurses on proper waste segregation and reduced hazardous waste by 1,600 pounds for a savings of $12,299.

The long-term effects of winter salting of roadways and sidewalks has been linked to the rise of dead zones in some lakes. SCVAHCS staff has worked on best practices for winter road maintenance to minimize the use of salt by 70 percent.

The campus recently added a 19,000-square-foot, LEED Silver building to house acute psychiatric patients and better serve veterans. Elements incorporated into the building include bicycle storage racks to encourage ecofriendly transportation; non-potable water for landscape irrigation; high-efficiency mechanical systems; ground source, heat-pump heating and cooling, water-based fire suppression; use of locally produced and recycled materials; furniture and furnishings that avoid chemicals of concern; and 75 percent construction and demolition debris diversion.

UCSF Medical CenterUCSF Medical Center

San Francisco
1,076 staffed beds and 57 ORs

One of the reasons UCSF Medical Center (UCSFMC) shines so brightly is its focus on communication, the public declaration of its goals, and the recognition that environmental stewardship is a public health issue. With strong leadership, internal grants and staffing, UCSFMC is positioned for success, and it uses goal-setting and annual reporting to inform decision-making and excel in environmental performance.

Its success in Greening the OR results from single-use device reprocessing, 100 percent surgical kit review, reusable sterilization kits, LED surgical lighting and HVAC setbacks in the operating room. A case study featuring anesthetic gases and cost reduction is a blueprint for what is likely to emerge as an important area of focus, and UCSFMC also leads with its Less Meat, Better Meat focus on local and sustainable foods and the elimination of sugar-sweetened beverages.

The movement toward renewable energy is an important but emerging area for the health care sector, and UCSFMC has tackled numerous projects and achieved 7.1 percent usage. An early champion of water conservation, UCSFMC has achieved 30.4 percent water reduction from its baseline year and eliminated irrigation in landscaping; it uses just 34.21 gallons of water per square foot, better than the 2015 median of 42.9 gallons per square foot.

University of Vermont Medical CenterUniversity of Vermont Medical Center

Burlington, Vermont
392 staffed beds and 22 ORs

At the University of Vermont Medical Center (UVMC), the quest for a greener tomorrow touches all aspects of hospital operations. With its ubiquitous blue recycling bins, organic meals, and motion-sensor lights, the 392-bed hospital has all the markings of a sustainability-minded organization—and a successful one, at that. Behind-the-scenes efforts such as reprocessing medical devices, installing efficient pumps, and drafting an EPP policy round out the organization’s multidisciplinary approach to sustainability.

In 2015, the UVMC made enormous strides toward its commitment to being a prudent steward of limited natural resources. A national leader in Greening the OR, the organization partnered with its local waste management provider to significantly improve its blue wrap recycling collection process, expanding to new sites and increasing collection rates.

The UVMC Nutrition Services team had another successful year, as well. The organization demonstrated its commitment to healthy eating and green design principles with the construction of a LEED-track cafe that features locally-sourced, cooked-to-order meals, and aims to produce zero waste.

The UVMC also achieved substantial energy savings through various facilities projects, such as HVAC setbacks, LED upgrades and steam trap replacements. The organization will continue to expand and improve its green efforts in the coming year as part of its goal to become the most environmentally-friendly health care organization in the country.

University of Washington Medical CenterUniversity of Washington Medical Center

432 staffed beds and 28 ORs

The University of Washington Medical Center (UWMC) understands that wellness is not only a standard of living for people, but an amalgamation of environmental, educational and community health. UWMC is a leader in sustainability because it works with the university to set goals around community wellness and sustainability, and has multiple stakeholders engaged in its goal-setting process.

UWMC has a “commitment to the ongoing health of the people of the region,” and the organization demonstrates that mission by procuring food that supports optimal health. It has decreased the amount of meat purchased from the baseline year by 17.8 percent, and reached a 71.7 percent purchasing rate for meat and poultry raised without the routine use of non-therapeutic antibiotics. The center also contributes to the health and wellness of the hospital community by purchasing 41.5 percent healthy beverages.

UWMC leads not only in its community, but also in the entire health care sector when it comes to energy reduction and renewable energy usage. It has the vision to realize those goals through infrastructure upgrades, well-thought-out ROI planning and cross-sector collaboration, and can continue to provide exemplary care while being less energy-intensive. Renewable energy sources comprise 63.9 percent of UWMC’s energy portfolio. Paired with low EUI, UWMC has committed to sourcing 100 percent renewable energy in the future in implementing wellness as a structural priority.

VAMC (James E. Van Zandt VA Medical Center)VAMC (James E. Van Zandt VA Medical Center)

Altoona, Pennsylvania
57 staffed beds and 3 ORs/procedure rooms

The James E. Van Zandt VA Medical Center (VAMC) boasts a 59.7 percent recycling rate. Through negotiations with waste haulers, it was able to get more accurate weights (in pounds rather than tons) to save money. To make recycling fun, the center conducted an aluminum can recycling contest with the winning team receiving a pizza party; the contest increased recycling rates for aluminum cans 4.9 times during and after the contest.

The VAMC has eliminated more than 78 percent of the toxic chemicals used for cleaning over the last 10 years. It has instituted contract language for all purchases to promote sustainability, reduce chemical exposure, and provide a greener, healthier environment for all stakeholders. All cleaning chemicals are evaluated during each order, and bio-based or other green alternatives are tested and selected to replace existing conventional chemicals.

VAMC treats 95 percent of stormwater prior to runoff using a specially designed wetlands pond that allows outflow from the floor of the pond, reducing flow speed and volume while cooling effluent. A healing garden is associated with the pond, and the facility is working to restore a wetland on its grounds that was destroyed in the 1940s, before laws protecting wetlands were in effect.

The entire facility is managed retroactively to meet the requirements of the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA), and requires all designed construction to replace trees and major herbaceous growth on a two-planted-per-one-removed basis.

Virginia Mason Medical Center Smart CarVirginia Mason Seattle Hospital & Medical Center

294 staffed beds and 24 ORs

Virginia Mason Seattle Hospital and Medical Center is guided by visionary principles for environmental stewardship. Its strategic sustainability plan encompasses innovation, quality, people and responsible governance. For example, each staff member is educated in the Virginia Mason Production System, a strategy based on the Toyota Production System, and is empowered to leverage the “Everyday Lean Idea” system to reduce the hospital’s environmental footprint.

Teams throughout Virginia Mason have been remarkably successful in waste reduction and recycling. The center reports a 47 percent recycling rate, 23.6 pounds of waste per patient day and 4.9 percent RMW. To reduce waste, the hospital holds Kaizen continuous improvement events to get and test ideas, and created a “V-Bay” auction site on its intranet to encourage furniture reuse. It restocks partially full boxes, composts food waste, has a nursing/pharmacy collaboration system to right-size pharmaceutical dispensing, and operates a medical equipment donation program.

Virginia Mason’s Healthy Food program features community connections with local farmers, fisheries and Seattle’s historic Pike Place Market. A farmers market offers local food for sale to employees. Healthy food education is prominent in the retail areas, and the program offers daily meatless meals, spa water, food composting and reusable serviceware. Virginia Mason’s Waste Watchers program has reduced food waste by 80 percent.

Virginia Mason has a plan to meet ambitious water and energy reduction goals through partnerships with Seattle Public Utilities, WaterSense products and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Fix a Leak program, as well as native-plant, low-water landscaping. Also, Virginia Mason advocates for a low-carbon economy through participation in White House programs, leadership in Washington Business for Climate Action, and its membership in The Global Green and Healthy Hospitals 2020 Challenge.

Yale New Haven HospitalYale-New Haven Hospital

New Haven, Connecticut
1,572 licensed beds and 71 ORs

Yale-New Haven Hospital (YNNH) addresses sustainability activities through its WorkSmart Committee. A well-rounded program, it had several highlights in 2015, including helping initiate the hospital’s transition to LED lighting in three of its parking garages. This and other initiatives reduced YNNH’s carbon footprint by 560,000 pounds of CO2 during the year.

Recognizing the impact that transportation has on greenhouse gas emissions, YNNH has also focused on ways to improve staff transit. More than 1,300 individuals currently participate in the organization’s nationally-recognized, award-winning Transportation Demand Management program, which includes energy-efficient shuttle buses, CTrides commuter services, mass transit subsidies for employees, telecommuting, shuttle services, car and van pools, and bike-to-work and walk-to-work initiatives. YNNH has more than 2,700 participants in a car-sharing program, and recently added more vehicles due to high demand.

The hospital is also making major changes in its food services area to benefit patients, employees and the environment. In 2015, YNNH focused on offering healthier beverages and a Less Meat, Better Meat initiative that resulted in 22 percent local and sustainable procurement, 75 percent healthier beverage spend, and 13 percent of meat being raised without the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics. YNHH is actively reducing the volume of meat the hospital purchases by focusing on local seafood, legumes, beans and whole grains. YNHH also has a visible Meatless Monday program that promotes vegetarian meals.

At the hospital, 23 percent of energy is produced from renewable resources. In 2015, YNHH launched a hospitalwide energy conservation campaign to reduce energy and modify employee behavior. YNHH educated the community about energy conservation and invited a local utility provider to educate patients, family members and staff about the importance of home energy audits. It is exploring a Green Revolving Fund and the reinvestment of energy savings to fund future initiatives.