Healthcare News & Insights

Save money & go green with sustainability efforts

Sustainability is a hot topic these days, and the benefits for hospitals that adopt energy-saving routines are numerous. From saving money on utility costs to boosting your public image, going a little greener can only improve your organization.

The U.S. healthcare industry is responsible for almost 10% of the country’s total carbon dioxide emissions, according to an article in science journal PLOS One. With so much waste, it can seem time-consuming, expensive and complicated to make your entire hospital more sustainable.

Sustainability on a budget

But your facility can try several strategies to go green without breaking the bank. For example:

  1. Use eco-friendly cleaning products. Cleaning products often contain toxic chemicals that can be dangerous for vulnerable patients, like children and the elderly. Consider alternatives by looking for products with the Safer Choice logo. Safer Choice also has lists of non-toxic products and chemicals on its website.
  2. Serve local and healthier food. Meat is less healthy for the environment, due to the amount of energy raising livestock requires, and it’s often less healthy for patients, too. Providing more fruits and vegetables helps patients stay healthier and cuts down on the energy used to keep livestock. In addition, buying locally decreases the amount of gasoline and energy needed to ship food from further away.
  3. Stop buying products with flame retardants. Chemicals used as flame retardants can cause many negative effects in patients, including cancer and thyroid disruption. Flame retardants also don’t break down easily in the environment and can stay in soil for decades, which can contribute to health problems later on.

Your hospital won’t become a beacon of energy-efficient light overnight, but simple changes can start the process — and improve your bottom line.

Long-term revamps

For hospitals looking to create long-term changes, the American Medical Association provides two major keys to beefing up sustainability practices.

First, create a sustainability strategy. Incorporating new energy-saving policies and procedures is an ongoing process. Empower your staff to participate in the development of these policies, and listen to their feedback if procedures you propose might significantly impact the way you provide care. Explaining to employees why your organization is making these changes can get them on board with sustainability. Set goals for the strategy and dedicate money to reach them.

Another way to boost sustainability at your facility is by installing renewable energy sources. Talk to your utility company about adding green energy to your hospital and using alternate energy supplies, rather than fossil fuels. Solar panels save money and energy, but can be expensive to install, so discuss them with your utility provider to see if it’s feasible.

Sustainability measures can save your hospital big bucks, while improving your public image and helping the planet.

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