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Is Your Hospital Green?

If you’re being rushed to the emergency room with a burst appendix, you probably aren’t going to ask the ambulance driver how environmentally savvy the hospital he’s taking you to is. But if you are fortunate enough to be able to select your hospital, why not choose one that’s green?

Environmentally savvy hospitals do a number of things differently from traditional hospitals. When possible they are built using green principles, such as with more natural lighting and less VOCs, which makes the hospitals more comfortable for patients and visitors. Green hospitals produce less hazardous waste, and they dispose of what they produce in environmentally sound ways. And they use less energy. While these efforts save money for the hospitals, patient care is always top of mind.

 There are several ways to identify green hospitals in your area.

Energy Star, the EPA program that strives to identify appliances that use less electricity, also certifies hospitals. To find an Energy Star certified hospital in your area, visit, http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?fuseaction=labeled_buildings.locator, select “Hospital” on the drop-down menu, and type in your zip code.   

Eighty-five percent of community hospitals in the U.S., representing 2.3 billion square feet, have generated an Energy Star score. “EPA has seen applications from healthcare facilities increase in recent years, which tells us that hospitals are ramping up their energy management programs and seeing results,” says Clark Reed, director of the Healthcare Facilities Division in Energy Star. “Today, over 300 healthcare facilities are Energy Star certified across the nation, including both hospitals and medical offices.”

Another way to find a green hospital is to tap into the member directory of Project Greenhealth, a nonprofit organization that encourages healthcare facilities to be environmentally smart. Through training and tools — such as the Greenhealth Sustainability Dashboard, which allows a healthcare facility to measure and track it green efforts — the organization aims to help hospitals reduce waste, use less energy, increase recycling programs, and engage in other environmental initiatives.

You can see if your local hospital is a member by searching in the online member directory, http://practicegreenhealth.org/membership/member-directory. Being a member of Project Greenhealth does not automatically mean a hospital is green, but one assumes members are at least concerned about the issue.

Of course, if neither of these options turns up anything near you, you could investigate your local healthcare organization. Ask the public relations department if they have a sustainability commitment, and how they implement it. You may not get very far, but at least you’ll be putting the hospital on notice that customers care about sustainability!


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