Practice Greenhealth collected and compiled extensive sustainability data from 327 hospitals to provide timely information to hospitals and health systems working to build environmental stewardship into their mission.
The environmental performance data coming out of health care continues to substantiate the claim that sustainability initiatives can add value, reduce negative health and environmental impacts, and save critical health care dollars.
The hospitals that contributed data as part of their 2019 Environmental Excellence Awards submissions together saved an impressive $68 million on sustainability initiatives in 2018, while reducing more than 309 million kBtus of energy, diverting 146,750 tons of waste from the landfill, and avoiding 182,370 metric tons of carbon emissions through mitigation projects.
The annual data collection keeps hospitals abreast of the best practices for sustainability integration in 10 different impact areas, while also providing relevant benchmarks for improving performance. The 2019 data also provides the first public snapshot of greenhouse gas emissions from health care, including emissions from energy use, inhaled anesthetics, and meat/poultry purchases. Some highlights include:
- Hospitals implementing environmental initiatives in operating rooms saved more than $53 million in aggregate in 2018, with a median savings of over $100,000 per facility.
- 43% of hospitals in the data set now generate or purchase renewable energy as some portion of their energy portfolio.
- Of the 287 facilities indicating they had a sustainability lead at the health system level, 89% of the roles were full-time.
- Reporting hospitals are driving the market for safer and more sustainable products in health care and spent more than $134 million last year on EPEAT-registered electronics, more than $4.8 million on third-party certified green cleaning chemicals, $121 million on furniture and furnishings that avoid target chemicals of concern, and $37.9 million on sustainable foods and beverages in 2018.
- 50% of hospitals provided education on the connection between climate and health to their staff, patients, clinicians, and/or the community in the past year.
- 72% of hospitals in the data set have implemented a facility policy or commitment to design and construct all new buildings and/or major renovations to LEED (or another green building) design standard.
Hospitals in the midst of developing their sustainability strategies will find the data invaluable in its ability to provide benchmarks to underpin and inform goal-setting and to identify best practices for sustainable health care. Benchmarking data are also available for long-term care facilities and academic medical centers.