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Practice Greenhealth Announces Sustainability Benchmark Report

Practice Greenhealth has published its third annual Sustainability Benchmark Report – an analysis of activities and programs  at a number of hospitals that are highly-engaged in their commitments to sustainable, eco-friendly practices.

Practice Greenhealth has been recognizing environmental excellence in health care sustainability since the inception of its Awards program in 2002. This report is based on data supplied in applications by the 118 Partner for Change (PFC) and 23 Environmental Leadership Circle (ELC) 2011 Award winners and is designed to assist Practice Greenhealth member hospitals to measure their performance and define steps in their efforts toward sustainability in healthcare.

This is the only report that shows comprehensive data illustrating the progress of sustainability across the health care sector. The report analyzes data provided by health care facilities of various types and sizes located across the country. In addition to reporting out on metrics, the report shares sustainability trends and emerging areas of focus.

Hospitals and health systems are increasing recycling, use of greener cleaners, toxicity reduction, healthier food options, and making progress in almost every area of the report. Some activities are in place virtually across the board, such as the creation of green teams to manage program implementation, energy efficient lighting upgrades, and pharmaceutical waste management. Other emerging growth areas include the sourcing local food, polystyrene (Styrofoam) elimination, water bottle elimination, and solvent distillation in laboratories.

Although access to the complete 2011 Sustainability Benchmark Report is a benefit of membership in Practice Greenhealth, the report does cite notable trends among these highly engaged hospitals. For example:

WASTE AND RECYCLING

Recycling and diversion programs helped the 141 reporting hospitals save $19 million in avoided solid and hazardous waste disposal fees.

GREEN CLEANING

More hospitals are increasing their use of green cleaning products, equipment, and techniques, and are formalizing their cleaning procedures and contracts. Hospitals continue to recognize the value of reducing toxicity in the cleaning process. In 2011, 68% of PFC and 83% of ELC winners reported having green cleaning plans for their hospitals.

Lin Hill, Director of Awards at Practice Greenhealth notes that “Formalizing green cleaning shows an increase in awareness of environmental issues around cleaning by Environmental Service teams as well as an increase in commitment from hospital management. In addition to improving the indoor environment for patients and staff, green cleaning programs drive the market toward offering more environmentally friendly products.”

WATER

Trend:  Implementation of new water conservation activities has decreased since last year, with 41% of PFCs and 52% of ELCs reporting implementation of “recent” water conservation activities. Those facilities that are conserving water are reducing their total water use and their water bills by an average of 10-14%. The full report details specifically which projects are being implemented.

While cooling tower upgrades continue to give big paybacks in water and energy efficiency, Award winners implemented a host of other projects to conserve water, including eliminating the practice of defrosting meat with running tap water, using xeriscaping technologies such as native plants and/or gray water irrigation, and sub-metering their water use for better tracking.

ENERGY

The 141 Award winners reduced their electricity costs by a combined 4.6% from implementing energy efficiency projects. These savings are equivalent to 0.77 kilowatt hours per square foot of their facility or 12 cents per square foot.

Overall, Practice Greenhealth member hospitals are achieving dramatic reductions in their environmental footprints and are committed to implementing sustainable, eco-friendly practices.

Christina Vernon, Senior Director, Sustainability & Environmental Strategy Office for a Healthy Environment, Cleveland Clinic Health System, observed, “It is critical to establish baseline and periodic sustainability performance data processes and review patterns for internal management and continuous process improvement. Access to comparative data, via tools like Practice Greenhealth’s annual Sustainability Benchmarking Report, allows us to validate our data management processes, refine assumptions and identify sector best practices.”

 

About Practice Greenhealth:

Practice Greenhealth is the nation’s leading membership and networking organization for institutions in healthcare that have made a commitment to sustainable, eco-friendly practices. To learn more about Practice Greenhealth membership, visit www.practicegreenhealth.org.

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