10 findings on how hospitals are going green

Nearly 1,000 U.S. hospitals have reduced their environmental footprint, lowered costs and improved the health of patients and staff by focusing on sustainability efforts, according to the Healthier Hospital Initiative's 2014 Milestone Report.

HHI's most recent report summarizes three years' worth of progress among the 395 hospitals that submitted data to quantify their sustainability efforts across six areas:

  • Engaged leadership
  • Healthier food
  • Leaner energy
  • Less waste
  • Safer chemicals; and
  • Smarter purchasing

Highlighted below are 10 findings from the report.

Purchasing healthier food

1. Over three years, the number of hospitals participating in the Healthier Food Challenge — an initiative to offer healthier food to patients, staff and visitors — has increased from 21 in 2012 to 137 in 2014.

2. The weight of the average meal served in a hospital decreased from 0.115 pounds in 2013 to 0.103 pounds in 2014.

3. Forty-eight hospitals have phased out soda and diet soda, in favor of purchasing healthier alternatives, like juice and tap water.

4. In 2014, 115 hospitals spent $35,805,740 on local and sustainable food, and 64 percent (74 hospitals) purchased at least 15 percent of their food locally and sustainably.

Reducing patient, staff exposure to chemical toxins

5. In 2014, 172 hospitals made a least one product line di-(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate-free or polyvinyl chloride-free.

6. Hospital spend on certified* cleaning chemicals increased 11.2 percent from 2013 to 2014.

7. More than 59.8 percent of the furnishings 18 hospitals purchased were free of targeted chemicals of concern in 2014.

8. Fourteen hospitals met the goal of purchasing more than 25 percent of healthy furnishings.

Reducing energy use and waste

9. Under HHI's Leaner Energy Challenge, hospitals reduced their energy use by 73,600 metric tons of CO2e in greenhouse gas emissions in 2014, the equivalent of removing 15,600 vehicles from U.S. roads.

10. In total, 395 hospitals reporting in 2014 recycled 122,000 tons of waste, and 270 hospitals (68.4 percent) met or surpassed the goal of recycling 15 percent of all waste, with an average recycling rate of 26.3 percent.

*Update: The cleaning products recognized in the HHI Milestone report are Ecologo or Green Seal certified cleaning agents



More articles on sustainability:
Maryland hospital association seeks nominations for environmental awards
Hospitals prioritize sustainable purchasing in supply chain decisions
Top 10 ways to make your laundry "greener"

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