Environmental Excellence Award types

Executive Summary

Each year, Practice Greenhealth honors health care facilities through a range of awards.


The most prestigious honor for those committed to health care sustainability, Practice Greenhealth's Environmental Excellence Awards recognize health care facilities, health sector suppliers, and member organizations for making a commitment to and progressing toward environmental stewardship and sustainability.

Each year, Practice Greenhealth honors health care facilities through the following awards:

Top 25 Environmental Excellence Award

The Top 25 Environmental Excellence Award is Practice Greenhealth’s highest honor for hospitals. These hospitals are leading the industry with innovation in sustainability, demonstrating superior programs, and illustrating how sustainability is a core part of their culture.

Greenhealth Emerald Award

The Greenhealth Emerald Award recognizes health care facilities that are setting the standard in eliminating mercury, reducing and recycling waste, sustainable sourcing, and other areas. Winning hospitals have demonstrated a strong commitment to sustainability and shown leadership in the local community and in the health care sector.

Greening the OR Leadership Award

The Greening the OR Leadership Award recognizes the facility demonstrating the most success in reducing the environmental impact of its surgical suites. Operating rooms are large contributors to a health care facility’s environmental footprint, creating opportunity for significant cost savings and sustainability improvements.

Making Medicine Mercury-Free Award

The award is given to health care facilities that have virtually eliminated mercury and have policies in place to prevent it from re-entering the facility. Award criteria include strong mercury-free purchasing policies and management practices, staff education, and a commitment to continuing to be mercury-free. Mercury is one of the most hazardous chemicals, associated with many health risks.

Partner for Change Award

The Partner for Change Award recognizes health care facilities that continuously improve and expand upon programs to eliminate mercury, reduce and recycle waste, source products sustainably, and more. Winning facilities must demonstrate that they are recycling at least 15 percent of their total waste, have reduced regulated medical waste, are on track to eliminate mercury, and have developed successful sustainability programs in many areas.

Partner Recognition Award

The award is given to health care facilities that are changing their practices to become more sustainable and have achieved progress in areas such as waste reduction, renewable energy adoption, food purchasing and mercury elimination. They also must have a recycling rate of at least 10 percent for their entire waste stream.

System for Change Award

The System for Change Award recognizes health systems that are working cohesively and across hospitals and facilities to set and meet goals related to sustainability, from reducing energy use to increasing recycling to establishing green building practices. System for Change Award winners have at least four acute-care hospitals and have demonstrated cohesive and effective strategies to achieve sustainability.

Circles of Excellence

This award highlights hospitals that are driving innovation in sustainability performance across different categories. 

  • The Leadership category honors hospitals demonstrating excellence in supporting a long-term commitment to healthier environments through committee structure, reporting, data tracking, communication, and education. 
  • The Chemicals category honors hospitals with sound chemical reduction policies and practices. Winners address toxicity through greener cleaning programs and avoidance of chemicals of concern in purchasing products, services and equipment. 
  • The Less Waste category honors hospitals that have excelled in waste prevention and material handling, as demonstrated through high recycling rates, low regulated medical waste generation and low rates of total waste generated per patient day. These programs address all facets of the complex health care waste stream.
  • The Greening the OR category honors hospitals for leadership in implementation and innovation in the surgical department. Winners have demonstrated innovative approaches to waste minimization, clinical plastic recycling, reformulation of operating room kits, single-use device reprocessing, use of reusable sterilization cases, and a range of other programs and associated metrics.
  • The Healthy Food category highlights leaders in sustainable food services, including meat and sugar-sweetened beverage reduction, healthier meat procurement, local sourcing, food waste prevention and management. Top contenders have written policies and an educational strategy that addresses the food system as a critical component in an overall sustainability plan—for human and planetary health.
  • The Environmentally Preferable Purchasing category celebrates the best in environmentally preferable purchasing programs. Facilities are evaluated on their supporting policies, interactions with suppliers, environmentally preferable contracts and use of environmental attributes in RFPs and business reviews.
  • The Energy category celebrates hospitals that are leading the sector in energy efficiency and strategic energy use planning. Leaders generally have energy managers and written programs to reduce energy use over time. They are tracking energy use intensity and ENERGY STAR performance metrics and sharing details on comprehensive project implementation and staff engagement strategies.
  • The Water category recognizes hospitals for exemplary programs in water conservation and efficiency. These early adopters boast fewer gallons of water consumption per square foot, tracking of implemented conservation projects, written plans to reduce water consumption over time and have water-tracking mechanisms in place.
  • The Climate category highlights visionary hospitals taking the lead on tracking and measuring carbon emissions and developing overall climate programs. Winning hospitals demonstrate an understanding of the health impacts of climate change and are acting to mitigate those impacts and educate their staff and communities on playing a supporting role.
  • The Green Building category is presented to hospitals that have demonstrated LEED and other green building achievements over the past five years. These hospitals emphasize policies that show a commitment to or even requirement of LEED-level construction standards for all major new builds or renovations. Their achievements include energy and water efficiency, safer materials, regional sourcing, integration of nature and other mechanisms to create high-performance healing environments.
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