Greening the Medical Center

Green Healthcare News

January 2018

How Drugged-up Shellfish Help Scientists Understand Human Pollution
Every Advil you pop or antidepressant you swallow is processed in your body and excreted, often as chemical byproducts that can still affect other organisms.In their quest to understand the effects of drugs on marine life, however, scientists have found an involuntary ally: shellfish.

How Blockchain Can Reduce Waste for Pharmaceutical Companies
The revolutionary technology that is changing the way we use money through Bitcoin can also help pharmacies reduce waste. Blockchain technology takes something that is typically centralized and operates it on a peer to peer network.

New Report Predicts Renewable energy will be cheaper than fossil fuels by 2020
The lower price of renewable energy will certainly make it harder for the fossil fuel industry to ignore. Renewables will soon be both environmentally friendly, and cost-effective.

2017: The Year the Climate Change Came Home
It’s increasingly clear that we can no longer support healthy people on a sick planet.” Health care providers are taking heroic steps to address the collective trauma our communities are enduring.

How a Girl Scout Inspired a Health Care Giant to Ditch Plastic Straws
Most people don’t use plastic straws at home, so why are they so commonplace in restaurants? That was California teenager Shelby O’Neil’s revelation after watching a television spot for her state’s largest health care provider, Dignity Health.

The Case for Energy Saving Retrofits
Retrofitting smart technology to commercial buildings can cut energy bills by 8 percent in hospitals. Explore the cost and benefits of a wide range of options that are open to building owners and managers now. Tech that includes, occupancy sensors, smart thermostats, demand-controlled ventilation, electronic films for windows, and much more.

December 2017

The US health care industry could learn a lot from India’s doctors
According to one study, the health care sector accounts for 10 percent of carbon pollution in the U.S.The medical industry produces plenty of waste from treatments, tossing disposable gowns, caps, booties, gloves and blankets, in addition to using loads of energy to drive machines needed in diagnosis and surgery.

Hospitals save lives and money by investing in climate resilience
Safe haven in the storm: Protecting lives and margins with climate smart health care analyzes billions of dollars in losses and resilience-related savings to demonstrate how preparing for extreme weather can make or break a health system.

Hospitals are scrambling to solve their air pollution issue
Carbon dioxide is perhaps the most famous climate-changing chemical, but some of the gases used to knock people out in the operating room are many times more potent. In the United Kingdom, the National Health Services estimates that anesthesia alone accounts for around 5 percent of the carbon footprint of the health care system.

Carbon footprinting in health systems: 1 small step toward planetary health
Climate change is without doubt one of the major threats facing public health. With increasing populations and antimicrobial resistance, the pressures on health systems will be substantial.

Doctors warn: Air pollution harm to unborn babies may be global health catastrophe
Air pollution significantly increases the risk of low birth weight in babies, leading to lifelong damage to health, according to a large new study. Globally, 2 billion children are exposed to air pollution above World Health Organization guidelines.

November 2017

A hospital without patients
Doctors and nurses sit at carrels in front of monitors that include camera-eye views of the patients and their rooms, graphs of their blood chemicals and images of their lungs and limbs, and lists of problems that computer programs tell them to look out for. The nurses wear scrubs, but the scrubs are very, very clean. The patients are elsewhere.

University report indicates future homes could be made form medical waste
Researchers at Deakin University recently reported that adding plastic medical waste from dialysis treatments to concrete for construction can make the concrete more durable and waterproof — and prevent 5,100 tonnes of plastic ending up in landfill every year. 

Hospitals are helping make us all sick
As temperatures go up due to climate change, extreme weather events become more frequent, and more intense. The changing climate is making people sick. Between powering facilities, manufacturing medical supplies, creating pharmaceuticals, and other activities, the U.S. healthcare system is responsible for a solid chunk of the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

Sustainability tips and using greywater properly
One of the many ways commercial facilities are reducing water consumption is to use greywater. While some greywater may look discolored, even “dirty,” it is usually safe, even beneficial to use to irrigate vegetation, even though it should not be used for human consumption.

Tips to reduce facility waste
The U.S. EPA reports that each person creates an average of 4.4 pounds of waste per day. To reduce the environmental impact facilities have on the environment, and to elevate some of the work from custodial staffs, businesses are making some changes to their waste management programs.

Hospitals are working to change by growing their own produce
High atop the roof of a hospital power plant in the middle of the city, farm manager Lindsay Allen is on her hands and knees, cutting sprays of leafy greens and arugula and packing them into boxes. These particular greens will go to the Boston Medical Center kitchen, where they will be prepared for use in the cafeteria salad bar.

October 2017

48 environmental rules on the way out
Since taking office in January, President Trump has made eliminating federal regulations a priority. His administration has often targeted environmental rules it sees as overly burdensome to the fossil fuel industry. According to this New York Times analysis, the administration has sought to reverse nearly 50 environmental rules.

Health care is driving climate action, for community health and the bottom line
Which of the following causes the most deaths each year — war, murder, traffic accidents or fossil fuels?
It’s fossil fuels. By a lot. Fossil fuels and the serious consequences of climate change kill more people annually than the other three combined.

High-performance Buildings Zero in on Zero-Net Energy
State and local regulations are driving new building construction as well as existing buildings to implement energy-efficient technologies in order to meet future carbon emissions reduction goals. These facilities, known as high-performance buildings, strive to deliver optimal efficiency, reliability, value and comfort to tenants. 

Boston Medical Center Rooftop Farm concludes 1st season
Boston Medical Center has transformed the once barren roof on top of its power plant building into the largest rooftop farm in that city. This past summer, the 7,000 square feet of growing space flourished with fresh produce, including arugula, bok choy, radishes, Swiss chard and kale.

September 2017

Flesh-eating bacteria, cancer-causing chemicals and mold: Harvey and Irma;s lingering health threats
In the weeks following Hurricane Irma, parts of Florida have been awash in millions of gallons of sewage. Meanwhile, in Texas, oil refineries and chemical plants have dumped a year’s worth of cancer-causing pollutants into the air following Hurricane Harvey.

Nurses’ regular use of disinfectants is associated with developing COPD
certain tasks involving frequent exposure to disinfectants, such as cleaning surfaces, and specific chemicals in disinfectants, were associated with a 22% to 32% increased risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

HHA offers hurricane guidance to health care facilities
With Florida still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Irma, a federal agency within the Department of Health and Human Services has issued draft guidance to help healthcare facilities with disaster planning and recovery for major hurricanes.

Designing buildings for an uncertain future
Winners of Modern Healthcare’s 32nd annual Design Awards are at the forefront of two major industry trends: building flexible spaces that can withstand dramatic changes to the healthcare delivery model and re-connecting patients and their providers to nature in environmentally friendly facilities.

Study: Microfibers found in tap water around the world
Scores of tap water samples from more than a dozen nations were analyzed by scientists. Overall, 83 percent of the samples were contaminated with plastic fibers.

Tapping into water conservation strategies
Health care facilities are the third-largest water consumers of all buildings in the United States, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star data, and are responsible for 7 percent of water use among all commercial buildings.

Sustainable practices enhance quality at Memorial Sloan Kettering
New York City’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s Food and Nutrition Services department believes hospitals can and should deliver important preventative health messages and solutions to patients, staff and the communities they serve.

August 2017

Anesthesia providers go green
One of the paradoxes of the medical marvel known as general anaesthesia is that in helping us to get well, those anaesthetic gases are also heating our planet. Now, a remedy may be at hand in the form of an innocuous-looking white powder…

Banned yesterday, here today: Banned flame retardants present in umbilical blood
Restricted over a decade ago in the United States, persistent and health-harming flame retardants are still being passed through blood from mothers to their babies.

Does washing your hands cause harm? Triclosan use linked to growing antimicrobial resistance
A connection has been identified between the mechanism of antimicrobial resistance to the disinfectant triclosan and resistance to the group of quinolone antibiotics.

Macaroni and cheese and… phthalates
A new report finds that fatty cheese products, especially packaged macaroni and cheese, contain a notable amount of phthalates.

Another reason to clean your room: Link identified between household dust and weight gain
Exposure to commonly encountered endocrine-disrupting chemicals found in household dust linked to increased weight gain.

Higher urinary phthalate concentrations associated with chronic disease in men
High concentrations of phthalates detected in urine is linked to cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure and chronic low-grade inflammation in Australian men.

Global Medical Device Manufacturer Moves Forward Removing Materials of Concern
Global medical equipment producer Becton Dickinson’s newly released 2016 sustainability report includes concrete progress toward eliminating known toxic chemicals such as phthalates, PVC, and brominated flame retardants from their products.

July 2017

Something’s cooking at hospital farmers market
The salad that Raquel Rivera-Pablo whipped together outside St. Vincent’s Medical Center Tuesday afternoon was a symphony of color. “Look how pretty this salad is,” Rivera-Pablo declared to a crowd gathered to watch her cook. “And there’s not much to it.” And that was roughly the point of her cooking exhibition — that eating healthy needn’t be difficult nor expensive.

Single-Use Medical Device Reprocessing Market — Global Industry Insights

Single-use medical device reprocessing is gaining popularity as it helps to reduce hospital waste and allows for major cost savings.

That drug expiration date may be more myth than fact
The box of prescription drugs had been forgotten in a back closet of a retail pharmacy for so long that some of the pills predated the 1969 moon landing. Could these drugs from the bell-bottom era still be potent?

What makes hospital microgrids efficient and green?
While hospital sustainability plans tend to focus on issues surrounding disposal of hazardous waste or green product purchases, the importance of energy planning is coming into focus.

Why California’s climate change fight is also about public health
In addition to mitigating extreme weather impacts, environmental policy experts say the state’s aggressive global warming program will also help solve a longstanding public health problem

Could the future of hospital food be healthy, plant-based and delicious?
If you know anything about hospital food, you know that healthy, fresh, plant-based menus are far from typical. But what if the food served at hospitals actually supported health and healing?

5 tips to maximize the benefits of SUD reprocessing
A reprocessed device can provide a significant savings, some up to 50 percent, compared to a new device. As a result, many hospitals save between half a million and a million dollars a year. Some save even more.

June 2017

Climate change puts health care in harm’s way
Worsening climate change means more intense, frequent extreme weather events – and more disruptions to healthcare delivery.

US air pollution still kills thousands every year, study concludes
Air pollution is still killing thousands in the U.S. every year, even at the levels allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency, according to a recent study.

Doctors want sugar and ‘cancer-causing’ foods out of hospitals
A major doctors’ group hopes to put an end to a great irony served up daily at most U.S. hospitals: The food offered there tends to contribute to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer.

Boston’s healthcare sector is on front line of climate readiness
Boston’s medical professionals see climate impacts in emergency rooms during extended heat waves, in treating more patients with asthma and other respiratory ailments and in investments to make facilities resilient to effects such as sea level rise.

Hospital microgrids become an integral part of the energy value chain
The evolution in microgrid technology is making it possible to produce reliable, critical power, more efficiently and for less money

Health experts are furious with Trump for pulling out of the Paris climate agreement
But the people who pay attention to public health want to remind you that a warmer planet will bring more air pollution, fuel the spread of infectious diseases and increase the incidence of certain cancers, among many other things.

The dishonest HONEST Act
More subtle and dangerous are attempts in Congress to undermine public health and environmental protections by limiting the use of scientific evidence under the guise of increased transparency.

By Serving Antibiotic-Free Meat, Wisconsin Hospitals Try To Keep Superbugs At Bay
Hospitals rely on antibiotics to fend off bad bacteria. But they’re also concerned about overuse, because too much of a good thing promotes resistance, meaning antibiotics don’t always work.

30 Under 30, one year later: Acclaim, aspirations and advice for Trump
Since the inaugural GreenBiz 30 Under 30 list was published one year ago, the climate (if you will) has undergone a radical transformation. Just 12 months ago, federal support for the cause of sustainability seemed certain.

May 2017

Smart Buildings: Giving Buildings Consciousness
More than 130 years after Edison’s bright idea transformed society and workplace productivity, lighting technology is being revolutionized. This time, it’s not just about bulbs. The transformation, in the words of one lighting-technology executive, “will give buildings consciousness.”

How Health Care Planning, Design Can Foster Community
As the role of health care facilities change, developers are finding more opportunities to design and develop properties that provide a strong connection to their communities.

Health Leaders Must Focus on the Threats From Factory Farms
This week, the World Health Organization — which works globally to improve human health — will meet in Geneva to select a new director general. We have a mission for that leader: take on factory farms, a major threat to health and the environment.

New World Bank Report Calls for Health Sector Leadership on Climate
The World Bank Group’s health and climate directors released a report today establishing a new framework for health systems in every country to become leaders in addressing climate change.

7th annual Africa Health Exhibition: the largest African Healthcare Congress
The 7th annual Africa Health Exhibition & Congress will be taking place this June 2017 with the intention of promoting global and regional initiatives throughout key African countries.

Big Pharma’s Pollution Is Creating Deadly Superbugs, While The World Looks The Other Way
A major study published today in the prestigious scientific journal Infection found “excessively high” levels of antibiotic and antifungal drug residue in water sources in and around a major drug production hub in the Indian city of Hyderabad.

Amcor to Highlight Innovative Packaging Solutions at Interpack 2017
Amcor, a global leader in responsible packaging solutions, will showcase some of its latest packaging solutions for food and beverage, home and personal care, medical and pharmaceutical industries at Interpack 2017 in Düsseldorf, Germany.

Public health on high alert for Zika as mosquito season looms: Preparations ramping up in states

President’s 2018 budget devastating to public health: Cuts to prevention, research, programs

Communities working to improve their health, thanks to challenge: Changing behaviors

April 2017

Living Green: Virginia Mason Memorial receives awards for its sustainability
Virginia Mason Memorial in the Yakima Valley has been recognized as one of the most sustainable health care facilities in America, with not one but three different awards recognizing this achievement.

Lead-Contaminated Drinking Water Goes Far Beyond Flint
In fact, 63 percent of Americans worry “a great deal” about polluted drinking water, and ranked it as more concerning than air pollution, climate change and the extinction of plant and animal species, according to a Gallup poll conducted in March.

Use sustainable landscaping for a positive mark
There are ways to use resources more efficiently and cut back on energy consumption inside, of course, but one eco-friendly idea for businesses exists that you might not have considered: sustainable landscaping.

Designs That Heal
Healthcare designers and researchers are starting to ask what they can do to better support patients, staff, and families in these settings.

Practice Greenhealth Announces Winners of Top 25 Environmental Excellence Awards
Practice Greenhealth, the nation’s leading nonprofit membership and networking organization for sustainable health care, has announced the winners of its annual Top 25 Environmental Excellence Awards.

The profitable hospital system with sustainability in its DNA
We have all heard the aphorism “health is wealth.” Gundersen Health Systems, a nonprofit hospital network operating in 19 counties across three Midwest states, is proving this.

66 percent of the world faces water shortages every year
While it has been known for some time that the world water crisis is among the top three global problems, we now have a more accurate number and percentage of people who are currently facing this problem.

How a Laboratory Energy Retrofit Can Improve Sustainability and Reduce Utility Consumption
Existing laboratories provide significant opportunities to reduce utility consumption, improve sustainability, and manage costs.

Fairview to cut pop, other sugar-sweetened drinks at hospitals, clinics
Fairview Health Services will stop selling sugar-sweetened drinks at its facilities, including hospitals, to promote healthier lifestyles.

Boxborough firm is shredding medical waste — and expectations
Instead of the convoluted packaging, hauling, tracking, and incineration, Sterilis has created a medical waste shredder.

8 ways cities are upping the ante on building efficiency
Buildings account for about one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions (PDF) and it’s more like half in many big cities.

March 2017

Healthcare Sustainability
Today we’re seeing efforts to tackle root causes and complex, sector-wide problems like climate change and greening the supply chain — reducing health care’s impact on the environment and the environment’s impact on public health.

Medical supply surpluses a common source of hospital waste
Much has been made about the costliness of the American healthcare system, but one factor that may be driving up medical costs is the prevalence of “medical surplus,” essentially usable supplies that hospitals discard when new equipment comes in…

New Device Combines Steam Sterilization with a Grinder for Onsite Medical Waste Treatment
Sterilis LLC has developed a device that combines steam sterilization with a grinder, allowing it to be treated on-site and at point-of-care in about 60 minutes and requiring no dedicated plumbing, drainage, or fixtures.

Stryker’s Sustainability Solutions’ Bill Scott talks reprocessed medical devices
Faced with rising operational costs and healthcare policy’s unclear direction, many hospitals have begun utilizing reprocessed medical devices, a trend that could cut $500,000 to $2 million off a facility’s budget every year.

A Gas Turbine Microgrid Offers a Prescription for Sustainable Energy
To meet both needs, Seton chose to power their new facility with a combined heat and power (CHP) plant that would not only provide power, but also capture waste heat from the combustion process to provide district heating.

February 2017

Health and Safety Regulations Hang in the Balance As Trump Signs New Executive Order
President Trump signed an executive order in February 2017 stating that federal agencies must eliminate two regulations for each new one issued.

Final EPA Assessment of Ethylene Oxide Sets Strict Cancer Potency Estimate
In December 2016, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its third and final assessment of ethylene Oxide (EtO), a commonly used sterilizing chemical in health care.

Protecting world’s most vulnerable populations from climate change
Many lessons for addressing the effects of climate change were shared throughout the course of the Climate & Health Meeting, held Feb. 16 at the Carter Center in Atlanta, and one panel discussed ways we can find solutions from a less obvious source: low- and middle-income countries.

10 reasons health care needs sustainability treatments
Health care is in conflict with itself — in some ways, it’s its own worst enemy. A sound treatment protocol has to be balanced with resource conservation and management.

Here’s how hospitals can heal through sustainability
While the current debates around health care focus on the financial costs, we also need to consider the cost to our environment.

Test and scale: Action-based approach to sustainable healthcare
Long committed to working with partners and stakeholders to improve health care sustainability in Europe, AbbVie is developing pilot programs to identify problems, test solutions and scale up successful initiatives.

In America’s Heartland, A Power Company Leads Charge For Electric Cars
A $20 million project launched two years ago by investor-owned Kansas City Power & Light, whose service area straddles the Kansas-Missouri border, has turned a Midwestern metropolitan area into one of the fastest-growing electric vehicle markets in the country.

Renewable NRG producing 100 percent of energy on-site
Vermont Business Magazine Renewable NRG Systems (RNRG) has added two fixed solar arrays to its LEED Gold-certified headquarters in Hinesburg, allowing the company to meet all of its electricity needs with on-site, renewable energy.

On the light track to improved design for healthcare
As a member of the Light and Health Alliance, USAI Lighting recently worked with Mariana Figueiro, Program Director at the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, to stay up to date with research findings from the latest metric in lighting (and health), Circadian Stimulus (CS).

Healthcare plastics recycling project identifies challenges, opportunities
More than 10 billion pounds of plastic healthcare packaging were placed on the market in 2013, only 14% of which were collected for recycling, according to BCC Research in its Plastics for Healthcare Packaging report.

Is your sustainable supply chain program really as good as you think?
“While the principle of having a sustainable supply chain program is clear and widely accepted, there is still a lack of consensus on the practice.”

Health Care Sustainable Purchasing Tool Under Development
A new partnership between Underwriters Laboratories and Greenhealth Exchange aims to help health care companies realize these financial and EHS benefits by sourcing safer and healthier products and services.

‘Green’ Buildings May Boost Productivity, Cut Down on Sick Days
A series of new studies, led by Harvard University and SUNY Upstate Medical University, found that occupants of high-performing green buildings showed higher cognitive function scores, fewer sick-building symptoms and higher sleep quality scores than workers in high-performing buildings without green certification.

January 2017

Greenhealth Exchange Sees Significant Growth in 2016
Greenhealth Exchange, launched in May of 2016, has seen its health system ownership nearly double in the span of just seven months.

Healthcare Sustainable Purchasing Tool Under Development
A new partnership between Underwriters Laboratories and Greenhealth Exchange aims to help health care companies realize these financial and EHS benefits by sourcing safer and healthier products and services.

How Hospitals, Recyclers Can Make Recycling Healthcare Plastics Economically Viable
To address low recycling rates and increase the amount of healthcare plastics managed in a circular economy approach, the Healthcare Plastics Recycling Council and the Plastics Industry Association launched a multi-hospital plastics recycling project in the Chicago area.

Practice Greenhealth’s Sustainability Benchmark Report Shows Strong Progress in Environmental Performance Among Nation’s Leading Hospitals
On January 4th, Practice Greenhealth, the nation’s leading nonprofit membership and networking organization for sustainable health care, released its eighth annual Sustainability Benchmark Report.

Challenges of hospital plastics recycling include contamination, low commodity values
A recent Healthcare Plastics Recycling Council (HPRC) report found that although it is possible to recover value from various types of plastic medical waste, there are many logistical challenges.

Turning operating room trash into artistic treasure at UW Hospital
Environmentalism, medicine and art all have one thing in common at UW Hospital. Staff members are now recycling and reusing medical plastic, like vial caps, that otherwise would have been thrown away, largely for art projects.

Women bear the brunt of climate-forced migration
Climate Change Knows no Borders, prepared by ActionAid, Climate Action Network South Asia and Bread for the World (Brot Fuer Die Welt) calls on national policymakers to especially monitor impacts of climate-induced migration on women and urgently address the policy gap.

Living Among Warehouses, Community Fights to Breathe
About 1,341 people in the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale area are estimated to die each year because of pollution levels.

Hospital touts success of recycling program
The San Juan Regional Medical Center has been actively working on reducing its carbon footprint since 2007, a hospital officials says, resulting in a reduction of 200 tons of waste taken to the landfill each year and a total savings of $2 million to the hospital.

Tunable LED patient-room lighting offers energy efficiency, more
With the help of Department of Energy (DOE) funding, Philips Lighting Research North America is developing an innovative prototype LED patient-suite lighting system that’s not only energy-efficient, but also goes beyond meeting the visual needs of patients, caregivers and visitors to also meet their nonvisual needs.

Hospitals Share Successes, Challenges from Pilot Healthcare Plastics Recycling Program
In December 2016, the Healthcare Plastics Recycling Council (HPRC) announced the completion of a multi-hospital plastics recycling project in Chicago, collaborating with the Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS).

Cape Town center a standout for sustainable hospital operations management
A range of green technologies is making the new Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa, a model facility for sustainable hospital operations management.

Hispanics more likely to be affected by climate change
Hispanics in the U.S. face greater health impacts from climate change than people of other races and ethnicities, and are also likely to favor measures that would curb its effects, according to a new report.

December 2016

Over 70 Hospitals Engaged in Conscientious Culinary Creativity for Food Day
With more than 70 participants from California to Massachusetts, Wisconsin to Florida and the places in between such as Wyoming and Colorado, hospitals answered the call to source and serve food that makes a difference.

Greenhealth Cost of Ownership Calculator
Practice Greenhealth and our partners have developed the the Greenhealth Cost of Ownership (GCO) Calculator that brings the hidden costs of various medical devices to the surface.

Florida Health Systems Share Regional Energy and Water Efficiency Best Practices
In response to the human and ecological health challenges associated with these conditions, the Florida Hospital Association, a member of Practice Greenhealth, recently launched its Hospital Sustainability Collaborative.

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Announces Funding for Zero Emission Research The Federal Transit Administration recently announced a $2.75 million opportunity for nonprofit organizations to apply for funding to facilitate the advancement, production, and deployment of zero-emission public transportation vehicle technology and related infrastructure.

Google will soon deliver on 100% renewables promise
Sometime within the next 12 months, internet search and cloud services giant Google will be buying enough clean power on an ongoing basis to account for the electricity needs of both its 13 data centers (so far) and offices in more than 150 cities around the world.

Medical waste recycling process could provide NHS with revenue source
One of Wales’ oldest hospitals is pioneering a new recycling process, which its developers say could ‘revolutionise how healthcare providers worldwide deal with medical waste wrap material’.

Vulnerable populations at risk from effects of climate change: Public health working to find solutions
For vulnerable populations, such as children, low-income people, people with disabilities, pregnant people and minorities, the health effects of climate change-related extreme weather events can be especially devastating.

How Design Thinking Turned One Hospital into a Bright and Comforting Place
Over the past 10 years, the hospital’s managers have transformed their institution from the usual, grim, human-repair shop into a bright and comforting place.

November 2016

Health and environment ministers pledge climate actions to reduce 12.6 million environment-related deaths Gathering at the COP22 climate meeting in Marrakech, over two dozen high level officials from both sectors signed up to the Declaration for Health, Environment and Climate Change this November.

The power of climate-competent boards
Tangible action that locks us into a net zero greenhouse gas emissions trajectory, as quickly as possible, is more vital than ever. But just as Paris entered into force, the geo-political landscape shifted dramatically.

EU unveils plans to boost ‘clean energy’ use
The EU on Wednesday unveiled “clean energy” plans to boost renewable use, cut waste and reduce subsidies for coal power in a bid to meet its commitments to the Paris climate deal.

Education and Health Sectors Align through Sustainable Food Standards
The Real Food Challenge recently released a set of comprehensive sustainable food standards with which to evaluate the ecological, sociological, and economical impact of individual food products and enable informed purchasing decisions within the university sector.

Healthcare-related ballot measures that passed: State by state
Here are issues that appeared on 2016 election ballots in 10 states and passed, according to

Cracking the code for small hospital sustainability
Limited financial resources and geographic locations can make it challenging for community hospitals to remain sustainable in an environment of competition for providers and physicians while offering scaled-down services.

Get Smart About Antibiotics Week: Clinician Storytelling
For Get Smart Week 2016, Health Care Without Harm and the Clinician Comprehensive Antibiotic Stewardship (CCCAS) Collaborative have collected stories from clinicians about their experience with antibiotic resistance to motivate transformative policy change.

Hospitals crave antibiotic-free meat to reduce threat of superbugs
More hospitals have worked to eliminate antibiotics in the meat they serve in patient meals in an effort to address concerns about the rise of antimicrobial-resistant pathogens.

Blue Wrap and the Circular Economy
Fifteen percent of hospital waste is recyclable plastic, equating to 2.1 million lbs. generated daily or 766.5 million lbs. of plastic waste annually. Blue wrap represents 255 million lbs. of this.

Research Shows That OR Waste Prevention Strategies Add Up
Researchers at the UCSF Department of Neurosurgery studied 58 neurosurgery procedures and found that these cases wasted an average of $653 in unused disposable surgical supplies. That added up to $968 per case or $2.9 million per year.

High-tech sensors monitor ecosystems in climate change research program
New technology is bringing an unprecedented level of environmental surveillance to sites throughout California and beyond as part of a UC systemwide effort to understand and predict the effects of climate change on the state’s ecosystems.

Healthy Hospital Food: A New Approach to Patient Recovery
A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that Healthy Hospital Food Initiative (HHFI) in New York City significantly improved the nutritional quality of patient meals in NYC hospitals.

October 2016

The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) Releases the 2016 Sustainable Campus Index
The 2016 Sustainable Campus Index, a publication by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), recognizes top-performing colleges and universities overall and in 17 distinct aspects of sustainability, as measured by the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS).

Food Day Recipe Challenge
Every October 24, Food Day inspires Americans to resolve to make changes in our own diets and to take action to solve food-related problems in our communities at the local, state, and national level.

New Film Showcases Health Care’s Mission to Protect People and the Planet
In honor of its 20th anniversary celebration, Health Care Without Harm has released “Do No Harm,” a short film that discusses the medical field’s impact on climate change and actions that hospitals can take to reduce their carbon emissions that harm both patients and the planet.

New tool helps urban communities build resilience to climate change
The new Built Environment topic in the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit can help community leaders and businesses address a wide range of risks facing cities and towns.

Smart City Planning Can Cut Deadly Diseases, Improve Air Quality
An international study led by the University of Melbourne in Australia and the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) found that cities that promote walking, bicycling and public transportation can expect a drop in chronic illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes.

CircuitGuard™ awarded the Association of Perioperative Registered Nurses (AORN) Seal of Recognition
It is legal to use a circuit labeled SPU for multiple patients FDA cleared as a hygienic alternative to decontamination of anesthesia equipment. CircuitGuard™ filter’s exclusive Unitized Construction protects anesthesia circuits from contamination and protects patients from contaminated circuits.

Providing subsistence foods for Alaska healthcare facilities
In the heart of Alaska’s largest city, the 167-bed Alaska Native Medical Center facility serves Alaska Native and American Indian people from all walks of life. So, how do you provide traditional meals within the sterile, heavily regulated walls of a hospital or other health care facility?

Vegan food ‘should be on menus at schools, hospitals and prisons’
The Vegan Prisoners Support Group (VPSG) has long provided help, support and information to prisons on how to ensure vegan prisoners have access to decent food and cruelty-free bodycare products.

Council Votes to Ban “Greenwashing” of Non-Compostable Bags
The Seattle City Council recently voted unanimously to make Seattle the first place in the nation to ban the use of misleading green- and brown-tinted non-compostable plastic bags. The lawmakers also moved to prohibit the use of false “eco” labeling on non-compostable bags, and to make permanent Seattle’s five-cent charge for recyclable paper shopping bags.

Hospitals Invest in Building Stronger, Healthier Communities
Several large health systems are using community benefit dollars and money from community investment funds to reach beyond the walls of their institutions and address the upstream determinants of health—including access to safe housing, healthy food, and employment.

50 of the greenest hospitals in America | 2016
Becker’s Hospital Review is pleased to name 50 hospitals as some of the greenest hospitals in America.The 50 hospitals on this list have fully committed to being environmentally friendly, as evidenced by the robust programs they have implemented and awards and recognitions they have won for their efforts.

Hospital Room Design Connected to Key Aspect of Patient Safety
How a hospital room is designed may keep patients safer and healthier and shorten their hospital stay, a design researcher at Texas Tech University has found.

Toxic chemicals tied to $340 billion in U.S. health costs and lost wages
Chemicals found in plastic bottles, flame retardants, metal food cans, detergents, cosmetics and pesticides cost the U.S. more than $340 billion a year in health costs and lost earnings, a new study estimates.

Data-Driven Energy Performance is The Future of Green Building
Green building certifications have brought about a strong movement in sustainable building practices, from resourcing locally and responsibly to building better and smarter. However, these certifications only take building so far - the future, says Scot Horst, is in energy management.

How turning food waste into fertilizer benefits the industry
WISErg’s solution is more cyclical in nature: It enables food waste to return to the earth and fertilize tomorrow’s crops. This benefits farmers, who can generate more revenue off higher yields. But it can also improve profitability for manufacturers that work with these farmers and can enjoy a more plentiful supply at a potentially lower cost.

September 2016

Hospitals take a ‘waste not, want not’ approach to food operations
Food waste, as messy as it can be, is an area that’s helping hospitals to cut costs and help the environment. A number of health systems are taking steps to use more of the food they obtain for their food services and looking for ways to reuse the food waste that is produced.

Boston’s ‘Green Ribbon Commission’ activating civic leadership
In the fall of 2015, the Boston Medical Center announced its plan to become the city’s “greenest” hospital. As the Boston Globe reported, the hospital set aggressive goals for reducing its emissions by investing in energy efficiency, while also improving its bottom line.

The next phase in green building is healthier buildings
The financial benefits of green building have been well established. Studies have repeatedly shown green building certification such as LEED and BREEAM lead to lower operating costs. But, the next phase of green building: healthier buildings that improve employee wellness.

Put your best food forward: Celebrate Food Day 2016 with our recipe challenge
Every Oct. 24, Food Day inspires Americans to resolve to make changes in our own diets and to take action to solve food-related problems in our communities. To celebrate Food Day in 2016, Health Care Without Harm and Practice Greenhealth have teamed up with Menus of Change.

Why design for recycling matters in healthcare and what you can do about it 
In the United States, the typical operating room contributes 5.4 tons of medical waste to landfills each year, translating to costs of $5,234 per operating room, according to Practice Greenhealth’s 2015 Sustainability Benchmark Report.

Temple University Hospital named a ‘healthier hospital’ 
Representatives from several hospitals in Philadelphia were honored by a local nonprofit recently for their efforts toward making the city healthier. Common Market, a local nonprofit that connects institutions with healthy, local food, honored TUH along with Jeanes Auxiliary Hospital and Lankenau Medical Center.

Johnson & Johnson buying 100 megawatts of Texas wind power 
Johnson & Johnson, the world’s biggest maker of healthcare products, agreed to buy 100 megawatts of capacity from a wind-power project in the Texas Panhandle. The company signed a 12-year power purchase agreement to buy half the output from a 200-megawatt wind project being developed by EON SE.

Study shows hospitals waste millions tossing away unused supplies 
Want to stop the money from hemorrhaging out of your hospital? Try not tossing away that $4,000 bleed-stopping surgifoam sponge without having used it. The sponge was the most expensive unused item discarded post-op, according to UCSF research published in the May issue of Journal of Neurosurgery.

Determining the cost of not going green
Leading healthcare sustainability steward Practice Greenhealth, Reston, Virginia, rolled out a new tool to help hospitals simplify purchasing of green products and evaluate their life-time costs compared with other market choices.

Raising the bar  Gundersen Health System, a La Crosse, Wisconsin-based network of six medical centers and dozens of clinics in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa, has long been recognized for championing environmental sustainability. Among its achievements, Gundersen Health became the first health system in the country to produce more energy than it consumed in late 2014.

Sourcing stewards: HealthTrust committed to sourcing for healthy interiors
HealthTrust has made environmental stewardship a priority by participating in the Healthier Hospitals Healthy Interiors initiative, a program of Health Care Without Harm and Practice Greenhealth. To meet HI’s 2.0 goal, hospitals have to ensure that 30 percent of their annual furniture and furnishings purchases (based on cost) are HI-compliant products and free of hazardous chemicals.

The key to greening healthcare
In healthcare, environmental stewardship can offer an alternative way to practice the Hippocratic Oath — to heal and do no harm. Hospitals can have a positive effect on both indoor and outdoor environments by using safer products, reducing air pollution, eliminating toxins, creating less waste, and using energy and water efficiently.

Sparrow Ionia Hospital wins green building certificate
The Sparrow Ionia Hospital was awarded a Leadership in Environmental and Leadership Design green building certificate. The hospital was built in 2015 and is the first critical access hospital in Michigan to receive the certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Practice Greenhealth launching tool to help hospitals compare long-term equipment costs
Practice Greenhealth has made yet another move into supply chain with the expected launch of a tool that helps hospitals forecast the total cost of using and maintaining a product, beyond just the purchase price.

Canadian Medical Association completes divestment from fossil fuels
The Canadian Medical Association’s General Council, held recently in Vancouver, may well be remembered as the moment that Canadian doctors made climate change — dubbed “the biggest health threat of the 21st century” by the World Health Organization — a priority.

Cleveland Clinic’s green fund delivers results
Cleveland Clinic is betting big on the environment, launching several ambitious energy-saving efforts paid for in large part through a fund dedicated to green projects. Touted as the largest of its kind in the healthcare field, at about $7.5 million when the green revolving fund was announced in May, Cleveland Clinic is moving quickly to increase its energy efficiency by investing in large-scale projects.

HackensackUMC calls on food producers, manufacturers to provide sustainable meat and poultry to the healthcare industry
Hackensack University Medical Center (HackensackUMC), a member of Hackensack Meridian Health, joined health systems across the country recently in calling on food producers and manufacturers to provide sustainable meat and poultry for the healthcare industry.

August 2016

New green advancements in hospital environments
The call for industries to become eco-friendly has not fallen on deaf ears. Any organization tha