How Hospitals Are Crushing Healthcare Sustainability

August 5, 20194 minute read

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Healthcare isn’t exactly known to be the most environmentally conscious industry, but some hospitals are taking the healthcare sustainability game to a new level.

Take Ohio’s Miami Valley hospital for example, which recently earned the EPA’s ENERGY STAR certification for superior energy performance. To win this distinction, certified buildings have to perform in the top 25 percent of buildings nationwide.

Building a sustainable brand

In the age of healthcare consumerism, certifications like these are more than just awards—especially for hospitals and health systems looking for new ways to win over challenging demographics and increase patient lifetime value. Just take a look at these statistics:

  • 68% of millennials have purchased a product with a social or environmental benefit in 2018

  • 87% of consumers have a more positive image of a company that supports social or environmental issues

  • 88% of those same consumers will be more loyal to a company that supports social or environmental issues

  • 92% will be more likely to trust a company that supports social or environmental causes

Healthcare sustainability initiatives can be powerful tools in building a brand that keeps up with patient values and solves pressing challenges. Still, branding is just the tip of the iceberg.

Hospitals struggling to get the most out of every dollar stand to see real benefits from investing in healthcare sustainability. Electric Energy Online has stated that a modest 50-bed, 200,000-square-foot medical facility spends nearly $700,000 per year on energy costs alone, and even small changes have the potential to make a significant impact on an organization’s bottom line.

Getting in front of the healthcare sustainability wave

Ensuring progress toward real healthcare and office sustainability requires a plan that will help you optimize your investments in sustainability initiatives and technology. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Initiative offers useful resources to help you along a more sustainable path. Such resources may be helpful as you take on the following tasks:

  • Assessing the current energy performance of your facilities and creating savings goals

  • Developing energy-saving solutions tailored to your organization’s needs

  • Constructing a business case to help win executive buy-in

Practical tips

In many ways, sustainability looks the same in healthcare as it does in other industries, but there are a few particular pieces of advice to keep in mind as you develop your initiatives.

Reduce heat gain

Focusing on lowering heat gain can lead to lower cooling cost, which constitutes a significant expense for hospitals, especially those located in warmer climates. This initiative starts may involve enacting common office sustainability measures like lighting evaluations, supplemental load reductions, upgrades to your air handling system, and retro-commissioning your operations.

Look for complex energy waste

Cooling and heating your facility to account for weather can be a big expense, and sneaky factors like body heat, running computers, and other technology can push air conditioning systems as well, especially in buildings like hospitals where temperature control is a matter of health and safety.

Keep things current

Environmentally conscious manufacturers are mindful of sustainable impact and are continually producing equipment models that can enhance your progress toward sustainability. For example, newer models of power-intensive devices like MRI and CT scanners use far less energy and operate with greater speed than older models. Small, portable solutions like handheld ultrasound machines can provide portability and accuracy and produce very little heat compared to traditional models.

Keep up with the green hospital movement

Modern hospitals are incorporating sustainability concepts from the ground up. Their designers are building the infrastructure to operate efficiently and sustainably, even with limited budgetary resources. Many are pushing sustainability standards to new levels. Kaiser Permanente, for example, has a target of becoming carbon neutral by 2020 and ‘carbon net positive’ by 2025. Even if you aren’t launching any new building projects, keeping pace with the direction of green hospitals can be a source of ongoing inspiration.

For most hospitals, sustainable IT and operations require shifts in perspective, purchasing practices, and even workplace culture. Ensure that you connect with resources like ENERGY STAR Score for Hospitals and the Better Buildings Alliance to give your sustainability initiatives the best chance for success.

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