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Green Healthcare: Hospitals Becoming More Eco-Friendly

Turning green at the hospital might not be such a bad thing anymore. Environmental initiatives like reducing carbon footprint and increasing energy efficiency aren’t just for utilities and tech companies.  Today they are on the agenda of many businesses, especially health institutions.

Over the last few years, Kaiser Permanente installed solar panels to increase energy efficiency, resulting in a 30 percent reduction in annual emissions. With a combination of energy-efficient upgrades and new building practices, Kaiser estimates it saves close to $10 million per year. Many other hospitals are following suit by implementing similar programs to help reduce their impact on the environment, such as installing improved waste disposal systems, recycling materials and even simple measures like posting placards to remind employees to turn off lights in unused rooms.

There are a number of coalitions committed to encouraging hospitals to make their facilities a healthier place for both patients and the planet. Hundreds of hospitals are participating in the current “green health” movement with a goal to increase that number to 2,000 hospitals over the next three years. Some of the strategies advocated by the Healthier Hospitals Initiative are:

  • Engaging hospital and healthcare leadership on environmental health and sustainability
  • Serving healthier foods and beverages
  • Reducing energy use
  • Reducing waste and increasing recycling
  • Using safer chemicals
  • Purchasing environmentally preferable products

How does all this benefit patients? Implementing many of these solutions lower a hospital’s costs, ideally enabling the provision of better care. Additionally, the cost savings help support additional staff members and continued investments in other hospital programs. Fewer chemicals, happier employees and a more efficiently run hospital collectively contribute to providing patients better care at a lower cost.

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