A September 2012 survey by Johnson & Johnson found that one in three U.S. hospitals are switching to “greener” purchasing. While “green” and “greener” are subjective terms for a range of levels of environmental stewardship, some of the more objective recent examples of this are:
- buying fresh, local, organic foods
- using recycled water and paper products
- using recycled building materials in a new medical facility’s construction
Non-purchasing examples of how hospitals are going green include:
- efficient use of water, electricity, and climate control/air circulation (including lowering CFC emissions)
- training hospital staff in waste and toxin reduction (such as mercury and PVC toxins that can show up in IV drip bags and tubing)
- use of green cleaning products
- programs to segregate medical waste and to reduce, re-use and recycle general waste (as well as furniture and equipment that are no longer needed)
- incorporation of healing gardens, “green roofs”, and green landscaping that uses native plans, reduces water consumption, and minimizes or eliminates use of pesticides
While we might not be able to claim that there’s one single hospital doing its part for the environment, better than all the others in the country, here’s a look at ten medical facilities that are certainly setting an example worth aspiring to:
A decade after achieving the second level in the prestigious Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) system (considered a benchmark for green construction) the hospital that was the first in the nation to achieve a LEED Silver certification is still one of America’s greenest.
Opened in 2012, Rush University Medical Center is Chicago’s first Full Service Green Hospital. It takes into account water consumption and energy conservation, with a green roof, natural lighting and LEED certified gardens.
Regarded by many as the West Coast industry leader in environmental innovation, Kaiser Permanente has established its own guidelines for green and ethical operations. Especially impressive, is the healthcare consortium’s priority on access to fresh, nutritious hospital food: Kaiser started their first of 29 farmer’s markets in 2003 at the Oakland Medical Center.
Ranked in U.S. News and World Report’s top 10 for endocrinology, gynecology, heart surgery, kidney disease, neurology, orthopedics, psychology, and urology, New York-Presbyterian University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell uses eco-friendly cleaning materials and provides special training for staff members on how to minimize the environmental impact of cleaning/prepping patient rooms.
This isn’t the first time we’ve mentioned this facility, and for good reason. Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Hughes Spalding became the first hospital in the state to receive a LEED Gold rating from the U.S. Green Building Council. The hospital’s “green’’ elements include a reflective roof to help with cooling, as well as energy-efficient and natural lighting.
Kaiser’s Orchards Medical Office in Orchards, Washington has created a teaching garden with non-toxic, ornamentally attractive native plants such as daylilies. The garden is part of the education program of Kaiser’s poison prevention garden program, which shares safer landscaping principles with new mothers, schools, daycare centers, and homeschoolers.
The new Piedmont Newnan Hospital’s landscaping plan uses indigenous plants, drip irrigation and moisture sensors that are projected to reduce water usage by up to 50% (an expected $655,000 savings over the course of a year.) The hospital’s green roof is actually “green-irrigated” with plant material to provide greater insulation.
Built in 2008, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s LEED-certified children’s hospital purchases renewable energy credits, has nearly eliminated mercury, and has an extensive recycling system.
In 2012, Atlanta’s Grady Memorial Hospital and Emory University Hospital Midtown set the goal of cutting energy use by 20% by 2020. Among some of the less obvious things that staff hope to accomplish this through: better regulating of temperatures in surgical suites.
This Oregon-based facility is aiming to demonstrate that a medical center can incorporate the most advanced technology and forward-thinking patient care design along with energy-efficient, environmentally sound construction.
Any other hospitals you think should be singled-out for their extensive green initiatives, in operation, construction, or both? Weigh-in via the comments section below.