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The 2017 Top 25 Environmental Excellence Award Honorees

The Top 25 Environmental Excellence Award is Practice Greenhealth’s highest honor for hospitals. Selected from the Greenhealth Partner for Change Award applicants, these 25 hospitals are leading the industry with innovation in sustainability, demonstrating superior programs and illustrating how sustainability is entrenched in their culture. Competition was fierce this year, with many advanced and innovative programs at member hospitals vying for these 25 spots.

The Top 25 winners this year include:

 

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, 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 Infection Prevention Team approved the includsion of avoiding antimicrobials in its furniture purchasing standard. Advocate Good Samaritan led the system with Healthier Hospitals-compliant furniture purchases both in total dollars and in percentage compliance, with 75% of furniture (excluding beds and mattresses) avoiding target chemicals of concern
 
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 MEP 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 infusions bays and private rooms have floor to ceiling, wall-to-wall windows looking out onto a new healing garden. 
 
With all this activity, it is not surprising that 83% of the staff felt the site was environmentally responsible in staff satisfaction surveys. 
 

Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital | Barrington, Illinois

169 Beds, 14 ORs
 
Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital engages its community through an onsite Smart Farm, a volunteer, non-profit 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. Good Shepherd purchases 15.6% of its meat and poultry raised without the routine use of non-therapeutic antibiotics, had an 8.2% spend on sustainable foods, and a robust 59.4% spend on healthy beverages. 
 
Good Shepherd has decreased its energy use intensity by nearly 37% since 2008. All operating rooms have HVAC set-back 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 makeup, boiler makeup, chilled water makeup, 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 storm water 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 | Saginaw, Michigan

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, implementing demand control ventilation, the use of natural daylight, and the installation of occupancy sensors. A recent investment focused on replacing old windows with new energy-efficient windows.
 
Transportation planning includes alternative-fueled vehicles (ethanol and electric) for supply delivery, reduced days of delivery, and a no idling policy; operational changes designed to reduce greenhouse gases and pollution. The facility participates in regional transportation planning and offers bike racks and ride-sharing services which promote single occupant vehicle use reduction.
 
In the green cleaning arena, 64% of expenditures on the five target cleaning products meet the specification for ECOLOGO® 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% 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, Saginaw VA Medical Center has driven costs down for inpatient meals.
 

Boston Medical Center | Boston, Massachusetts

487 Beds, 22 ORs
 
Boston Medical Center’s focus on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction is a key component of its efforts to make Boston the healthiest urban population in the world. So far, the medical center has reduced its energy use by 19.4% from its 2011 baseline. They partnered with MIT and the Post Office Square Garage to enter into the largest ever collaborative renewable power purchase agreement in the United States. They also recently signed a long-term “Green Steam” agreement converting much of their district steam usage to combined heat and power generated steam. BMC is currently projecting that it will be net-zero for GHG emissions by 2020.
 
BMC has also demonstrated leadership around healthy food: 47% 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% local food spend is a result of food contracts and direct purchase from farmers. A 29% 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.
 

Cheyenne VA Medical Center | Cheyenne, Wyoming

87 Beds, 4 ORs
 
Excellence in energy performance is evident at the Cheyenne VA Medical Center with four banks of solar panels, a cogen plant that boasts a 1,180 HP generator equipped with heat recovery to produce both hot water and steam that exceeds the energy needs for the entire facility, and a range of energy conservation and reduction projects. 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 the Farmers Market. An onsite garden and greenhouse is managed by volunteers, and harvested vegetables are used in the hospital’s Community Living Center. When a large honey bee 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 over 30 jars of (very) local honey for distribution to the Veterans.
 

Cleveland Clinic | Cleveland, Ohio

1274 Beds, 86 ORs
 
Cleveland Clinic’s commitment to excellence in energy performance is demonstrated through on-site solar, which generates nearly 90,000 kWhs per year, and a 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% of its operating rooms, and a temperature policy that saves over 1.35 million kWhs 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 use 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 their 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. It’s all about engagement at Cleveland Clinic.
 

Erie Veterans Affairs Medical Center | Erie, Pennsylvania

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 their energy use by 13% in one year and 7.5% of its energy comes from renewable sources. They incorporated Green Guide for Health Care criteria into their 2016 construction projects totaling $25 million, which 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, LED lighting upgrade, and a replacement boiler. 
 
The facility accomplished its 25% reduction in meat procurement through reduced portion size and increased seafood offerings, and 70% of their meat is from animals raised without the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics. Nutrition & Food Services holds a Healthy Teaching 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 has freed up additional resources to further improve the quality of care provided to the Veterans they are 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. Their 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 their energy independence, they continue 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 infection control, safety, and the nursing departments.
 
Gundersen’s successes extend beyond energy and the four walls of the facility. Gundersen is now sharing what they’ve learned with other organizations and at a myriad of events including CleanMed, regional events, and other speaking opportunities. This empowerment allows for programmatic maintenance and a brisker pace for new initiatives.
 

HackensackUMC of Hackensack Meridian Health | Hackensack, New Jersey

691 Beds, 34 ORs
 
Hackensack Meridian Health HackensackUMC’s goals include: 20% energy use reduction, 100% meat and poultry purchased without the use of routine non-therapeutic antibiotics, and 100% 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% spend on targeted green cleaners, and 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 phase-out plan, and continued 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% spend on meat and poultry without the use of routine non-therapeutic antibiotics 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 with helpful tips as to what new moms can do to create a healthy environment for their babies.
 

Harborview Medical Center | Seattle, Washington

413 Beds, 26 ORs
 
Harborview Medical Center has achieved a spot in the Top 25 for the fourth 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, 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% 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 consolidation of courier services resulting in reduced vehicle trips by 25%, planning PV solar arrays with 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% reduction of energy use intensity since baseline.
 

Hudson Hospital & Clinic | Hudson, Wisconsin

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% reduction in energy use from baseline. In the past five years, the hospital has reduced its water usage by 43%.
 
In 2016, Hudson also created a new policy for vehicle idling and updated its donation reuse guidelines. They 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%. The hospital has a community garden with honeybee hives, natural lighting, native prairie plantings, and an 80% recycling rate for construction and demolition debris. 
 
Next, Hudson Hospital is planning for potable and irrigation water reductions, and has water conservation projects planned that 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% 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% of inpatient beverages were healthier types. 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 a 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% from 2012 to 2016, and the facility’s overall recycling rate for 2016 was 32%.
 
With a goal to reduce water by 36% 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 for seasonal watering. Also, WaterSense low-flow faucets, shower heads, urinals and toilets have been installed wherever feasible.
 

The James E Van Zandt VA Medical Center | Altoona, Pennsylvania

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 James E Van Zandt VA Medical Center uses nutritionally sound, local, and sustainable foods to enhance their patient’s care while minimizing environmental impact. An onsite vegetable-producing Victory Garden, the use of 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% recycling rate and 2.4% regulated medical waste generation--an 11% reduction saving 33% this year. Unannounced rounds maintain segregation practices.
 
With an impressive Energy Star score , the facility reduced energy use by 32% since its baseline year. Energy conservation projects include working with IT to power down non-essential computers overnight, LED lighting retrofits, boiler retrofits, and 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 demonstrate the hospital’s creative approach to educating employees and community members. 
 

Kaiser Permanente Vacaville Medical Center | Vacaville, California

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% sustainable food spend, 49% procurement of meat raised without the routine use of non-therapeutic antibiotics, 35% reduction in meat procurement from baseline, and 4.5% food waste reduction, 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 onsite garden produces vegetables which supports their 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 onsite 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 their operating rooms at Memorial Hospital, with 100% of their surgical kits reformulated, 100% of their ORs with HVAC setbacks to reduce energy during unoccupied hours, and 77% of their equipment sterilized in reusable containers--preventing the generation of difficult-to-recycle “blue wrap”. 
 
The healthy food work is highlighted by a 71% spend on healthy beverages, 9% sustainable and 7% local food spend, and 70% 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% renewable energy and energy-related greenhouse gas emissions have decreased 32% since 2007. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s far-reaching achievements, despite the challenges of an urban environment, have landed the facility in the Top 25 for the third year in a row. 
 

Minneapolis VA Healthcare System | Minneapolis, Minnesota

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% renewable energy from biomass and wind demonstrates their commitment to clean energy and energy conservation. A focus on responsible transportation includes participating in regional planning, vouchers for public transportation, bike racks and showers for staff, and shuttle and van share programs.
 
Their safer chemicals focus includes the use of ultraviolet disinfection and a 64% spend on green cleaning in five focus areas. They use water for floor cleaning and reduced floor stripping chemicals by 85%. Officially mercury free in 2016, antimicrobials triclosan and triclocarban have also been eliminated from hand soaps hospital-wide. The facility achieved a 50% spend on healthier furniture, replacing old furnishings and furniture, while 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 the 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% was surpassed with a 16% reduction. They accomplished a greenhouse gas audit and identified priority areas. Along with an Energy Star score of 71, they 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 their renewable energy to 6.7% of total energy use. Methodist 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, calculation of greenhouse gas reduction 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 their employee survey, 82% of staff is 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 their mark with a strong focus on chemical avoidance and energy use. With a 36% 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/sq ft made for one of the strongest energy performers in the Practice Greenhealth community. 
 
The facility has impressive sustainability metrics across a range of areas, including 98% of their spend on furniture that avoids chemicals of concern, and 84% 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 over 590 tons of solid waste from landfills, composted 6 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 vanpool, and 35 employees take public transportation.
 

Regions Hospital | Saint Paul, Minnesota

438 Beds, 30 ORs
 
Regions Hospital is watching their waste. While recycling and material management operations have been in place for several years, in 2016 the hospital’s 1.6 million square feet of space was assessed, waste education was provided, and single stream recycling was expanded 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% recycling rate.
 
The facility refinishes and recovers doors and cabinetry for reuse. In 2016 they extended the life of over 240 furniture assets through reupholstering and refinishing efforts. Regions Hospital partners with the not-for-profit organization, Matter, to provide materials, supplies, instruments, and equipment to missions and for donation. Aggressive paper reduction strategies led to a 17.2% 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.
 

Seattle Children's | Seattle, Washington

334 Beds, 14 ORs
 
Seattle Children's continuously strives for more ways to connect the health of children and families to environmental health. Their award winning Transportation program uses a suite of incentives to move their staff from driving alone to alternative commute methods such as bus, carpool and biking to work. The staff receive a deeply discounted transit card, free shuttle service to transit sites, personalized commute trip assistance, along with a daily financial bonus for alternative commuting. The bike program offers a free bike, 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 they 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% reduction in food waste generation from the hospital’s baseline year. The onsite organic gardens include a small demonstration garden for children to explore, a teaching garden to support clinical programming, and a production garden supplying produce to the kitchen. And the hospital is the first in the U.S. to earn Salmon Safe certification, reflecting their commitment to environmental stewardship.
 

Southern Arizona VA Health Care System | Tucson, Arizona

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 kWhs and 13.4% of their energy needs. Water usage decreased by 7.9% from baseline in 2016, which was attributed to several projects including boiler modifications that saved more than 7 million gallons and a new irrigation strategy that cut water use by 2.2 million gallons. Additionally, five new water-bottle filling stations were installed, 40% of shower heads and faucets with 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% spend on green certified cleaning chemicals for the five target categories, with an 81% 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 and as a seed-to-table program, they aim 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 starting off with 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 a fluid management program, plastics recycling, 83% of kits sterilized in reusable hard cases, HVAC setback program, LED lighting and removal of the anesthetic desflurane from the formulary.
 
St. Cloud VA reduced its water use by 30% 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 the hot and cold water to the highest temperatures possible. Since the completion of this project, they have reduced water use in the laundry by 15,746 gallons per month. Water-efficient fixtures, on-going leak maintenance and drought-tolerant plantings were key in their water conservation goal achievement. How fitting that with a name like St. Cloud, they embodied the need to demonstrate leadership in water use and conservation.
 

The University of Vermont Medical Center | Burlington, Vermont

429 Beds, 19 ORs
 
From grassroots recycling initiatives to executive-led strategic planning, the University of Vermont Medical Center believes in a holistic approach to greening its operations. Upholding its commitment to waste reduction, the organization achieved a 39% recycling rate in 2016. Nurse Recycling Champions, who volunteer to promote proper waste sorting in their units, toured the local waste provider 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. 
 

University of Washington Medical Center | Seattle, Washington

444 Beds, 28 ORs 
 
University of Washington Medical Center recognizes the power of goal setting. Their goals include 60% hazardous waste reduction as well as carbon neutrality strategies. With an Energy Star score of 74, the hospital reduced their energy use by 4.6% 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%. 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. They purchase directly through a local food hub with a 27% local spend and 32% sustainable spend. With a commitment to 100% meat and poultry raised without the routine use of nontherapeutic antibiotics, in 2016 they achieved 74%.
 
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.
 

Virginia Mason Seattle Hospital & Medical Center | Seattle, Washington

336 Beds, 22 ORs
 
Virginia Mason Seattle Hospital & 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, increase overall clinical engagement, as well as move toward establishing a formal internship program. In 2016, they set aside $100,000 for energy efficiency projects which funded an LED lighting upgrade in the 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 Seattle Hospital & Medical Center’s healing mission.
 

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