U.S. hospitals are embracing tried-and-true sustainability methods and launching new initiatives tailored to their individual budgets and staffing needs. Here’s a sample of initiatives underway, from the Health Facilities Management/American Society for Healthcare Engineering/Association for the Healthcare Environment 2015 Sustainable Operations Survey.
Energy was the largest category in which respondents reported that they track and report savings from sustainable efforts. Example: One facility is installing variable-frequency drive chillers, changing to light-emitting diode lighting, reducing kitchen hood runtime, changing out older air handling units over the past five to seven years, and capitalizing a water side economizer for fiscal 2016. The result: Its Energy Star score of 10 in 2008 jumped to 41 in 2015.
Implementing a regulated medical waste program is the top waste management initiative by health facilities. Example: With the help of nurse leadership, one facility trained nursing staff about proper waste stream disposal, and removed all biohazardous waste containers from patient rooms. That’s forecast to cut costs 20–24 percent the first year; as much as 35 percent with time.
Reducing water usage is a big focus as costs continue to rise. Example: At one facility, water from three water-cooled compressors is captured and pumped into the cooling towers, for an approximate savings of 36,000 gallons of water a year.
Cleaning materials to reduce water usage and eliminate chemicals also are being adopted. Example: One facility strips floors using only water via a machine that “sands” the surface rather than using harsh chemicals to remove old wax and finish. All new flooring has a no-wax finish.