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Healthier Hospitals Initiative's 2014 Milestone Report Caps Three Years of Sustainability Achievement Among Hospitals Nationwide

Program tracked tremendous progress across the health care sector to cut energy and waste, increase local and sustainable food and reduce toxins

(Reston, Va.)—The Healthier Hospitals Initiative (HHI) released today its 2014 Milestone Report, announcing the collective impact of nearly 1,000 hospitals across the country that reduced their environmental footprint, lowered costs and improved the health of patients and staff.

Launched in April 2012, HHI was designed as a three-year national campaign to promote a more sustainable business model for health care, while reducing the negative health and environmental impacts of the industry.

“We set out on this journey to accelerate the adoption of sustainable practices by hospitals and health systems across the country, to lead our communities and nation on a path to a healthier future,” said Gary Cohen, President of Health Care Without Harm and Founder of HHI. “Together we have successfully improved the environmental impact of the health care sector and will continue to safeguard patient and human health.”

HHI’s 2014 Milestone Report summarizes three years of progress among hospitals big and small, rural and urban that submitted data to quantify their sustainability efforts across six challenge areas: Engaged Leadership, Healthier Food, Leaner Energy, Less Waste, Safer Chemicals and Smarter Purchasing.

While 2015 marks the culmination of the three-year initiative, HHI will now continue as a free program of Practice Greenhealth, providing participating hospital systems with tools and resources to drive positive change.

“HHI has offered an opportunity to connect health care professionals and their facilities with the power of the aggregate—strength in numbers,”said Jeff Brown, Executive Director of Practice Greenhealth. “Our journey is too powerful to end here. We look forward to continuing this very important work as a program of Practice Greenhealth. Together, we will transform the market even more in the years to come, as more hospitals recognize the direct link that environmental impact has with the health of their patients.”

A few highlights of the 2014 Milestone Report:

Trends around purchasing and serving local, sustainable food and healthier beverages continue. The United States spends billions of dollars annually to treat diet-related, chronic diseases—$147 billion to treat obesity alone—another $116 billion to treat diabetes, and hundreds of billions to treat cardiovascular disease and cancer. This year, even more hospitals committed to modeling healthy behavior and reducing diet-related chronic diseases by creating healthier menus, buying antibiotic-free meat, reducing the amount of meat served, procuring more local and sustainable food and serving non-sugar-sweetened beverages.

  • Over three years, participation in the Healthier Food Challenge increased dramatically, from 21 hospitals reporting data in 2012 to 137 hospitals reporting data in 2014.
  • There was a decrease in the average amount of meat served per meal from an average of 0.115 lbs. per meal in 2013 down to 0.103 lbs. per meal in 2014.
  • Forty-eight hospitals increased their healthy beverage purchases, with many phasing out soda and diet soda for healthier alternatives like 100 percent fruit juice and promoting access to tap water.
  • 115 hospitals spent $35,805,740 on local and sustainable food in 2014, and 64 percent (74 hospitals) purchased at least 15 percent local and sustainable food.

More hospitals are reducing patient and staff exposure to toxins by purchasing and using safer chemicals. Everyday products like furnishings, cleaners and medical devices can expose patients and staff to harmful chemicals linked to health issues. Hospitals participating in HHI worked throughout the past year to transition to PVC- and DEHP-free devices, to purchase more “green” certified cleaning products and to purchase at least 25 percent of furnishings (such as chairs or exam tables) without halogenated flame retardants, formaldehyde, perfluorinated compounds and PVC.

  • 172 hospitals reported making at least one product line DEHP- and PVC-free in 2014.
  • There was an 11.2 percent increase in spend on certified cleaning chemicals compared to total spend from 2013 to 2014.
  • In 2014, 18 hospitals reported that an average of 59.8 percent of furnishings purchased that year were free of the targeted chemicals of concern.
  • Fourteen hospitals met the goal of purchasing more than 25 percent of healthy furnishings.

Reductions in energy use and waste continue to drive cost savings. U.S. hospitals emit 8 percent of our nation’s greenhouse gas emissions and create 28.4 lbs. of waste per hospital bed per day. Reducing the energy use in hospitals and increasing recycling and re-use are paramount to improving the sector’s environmental footprint.

  • In 2014, HHI’s Leaner Energy Challenge resulted in reduced energy use equivalent to avoiding 73,600 metric tons of CO2e in greenhouse gas emissions, the equivalent of removing 15,600 vehicles from U.S. roads.
  • In aggregate, the 395 reporting hospitals in 2014 recycled 122,000 tons of waste, and 68.4 percent (270 of 395) of met or surpassed the 15 percent goal of recycling as a percentage of all waste, with an average recycling rate of 26.3 percent.

“This Report solidifies the changes that the leading health systems are undertaking—not just reducing their impact, but actively using sustainability to improve the health of patients, staff and communities,” said John Messervy, AIA, Chair of the Healthier Hospitals Initiative and Director of Capital and Facility Planning for Partners HealthCare. “I thank participating hospitals for their hard work and commitment.”

To download a copy of the full report, visit www.HealthierHospitals.org/Milestone.

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About the Healthier Hospitals Initiative

The Healthier Hospitals Initiative (HHI) was launched in 2012 as a three-year national campaign designed to implement a new approach to improving environmental health and sustainability in the health care sector. HHI was led by three nonprofits—Health Care Without Harm, Practice Greenhealth, and Center for Health Design—with the help of 12 sponsoring health systems—includingAdvocate Health Care, Bon Secours Health System, Catholic Health Initiatives, Dignity Health, Gundersen Health System, Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), Inova Health System, Kaiser Permanente, MedStar Health, Partners HealthCare, Stanford University Medical Center, and Tenet Health Systems (including former Vanguard Health Systems hospitals). In 2015, HHI will continue to help hospitals and health care systems reduce their impact and improve health as a free program of Practice Greenhealth. More information is available at www.healthierhospitals.org

About Practice Greenhealth:

Practice Greenhealth is the nation’s leading health care membership community that empowers its members to increase their efficiencies and environmental stewardship while improving patient safety and care through tools, best practices and knowledge. To learn more about Practice Greenhealth, download the backgrounder here. To learn more about Practice Greenhealth www.practicegreenhealth.org

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