Sustainable Living & Sustainable Lifestyle

Healthcare is Going Green for the Patients and Planet - Learn How

Healthcare Going Green to Create a Healthy Planet & Patient

As it continues to grow, the healthcare industry is increasing its efforts to become more environmentally conscious.

The reason is simple: medical facilities are one of the world’s biggest users of energy and generators of waste. The healthcare industry spends $6.5 billion in energy every year, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, and generates five million tons of solid waste.

In the face of such statistics – and as typically one of the largest employers in their region – hospitals and other healthcare facilities are beginning to put green programs into place that will make their operations most sustainable.

And patients will see no reduction in the type of care they are provided and also get treatment in an environment that is more eco-friendly. A John Hopkins University School of Medicine study found that green policies can cut the carbon footprint of medical operations without lessening the quality of care for patients.

So what are some of the methods used by hospitals and medical operations to reduce waste? They include the following.

Healthcare Going Green

Healthcare Going GreenBuying greener products. Hospitals and medical operations spend an enormous amount of money each year buying medical products. Focusing on greener products can make a huge impact in this area, just based on the sheer volume of items purchases. For example, Kaiser hospitals conserves about $26 million in annual savings by focusing on purchasing products that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the use of harmful chemicals. They also encourage buying more sustainable foods.

Buying local. As part of the sustainable food area, some hospitals are moving into buying locally grown produce for cafeterias. This policy not only cuts down on the fuel used to carry produce to market, but also supports local farmers.

Alternative power sources. Power comes from burning coal, gas and oil, all of which releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Some hospitals are turning to alternative sources of energy, such as wind power, to make their operations most sustainable.

Going digital. Paper continues to be one of the most wasted products in both households and businesses. By becoming more digital in many areas – from record keeping to medical claims audits – hospitals and clinics are reducing their need for paper.

Cutting down on operating room waste. Hospitals are turning to better methods for handling waste in operating rooms and child delivery rooms, both of which combined produce about 70% of all hospital waste, according to a study at John Hopkins University.

Cutting energy costs. A study of five hospitals that implemented energy use reduction plans found that in just five years the facilities had saved about $2.12 per square foot of space, according to Healthcare Design Magazine. The energy reduction steps included upgrades to more energy efficient lighting, high-efficiency electric motors, sensors to turn off lights when no one is in the area and solar film on windows.

Recycling electronics. Large medical facilities use a large number of electronic devises. Some operations have found ways to recycle electronic parts rather than toss them in a landfill. For example, the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio first offers used electronics to university employees to use at work. Also, the center twice a year ships used electronics to the state prison system, where inmates are tasked with going through the used machines and finding parts that can be used again.

And in Appleton, Wis., the Affinity Health System recycles computer and medical equipment and also buys more environmentally-friendly equipment, such as flat screen LED monitors that use far less energy than older monitors.

These are just some of the examples of how hospitals and other large medical facilities have found that going green actually saves costs while also sustaining the environment. That’s a good deal for everyone involved.

Leave a reply

Name (required)


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.