As part of the health-care sector’s drive for increased sustainability, six leading health-care systems have formed the Healthier Hospitals Initiative (HHI) to help accelerate the sector’s shift toward environmental sustainability.
In April last year, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) launched the Hospital Energy Alliance (HEA) to drive energy efficiency and reduce GHG emissions in the health-care sector. Local and regional energy and water providers are also offering programs to assist in conservation efforts.
Kaiser Permanente is in the process of rolling out it’s “Sustainability Scorecard” for medical suppliers, the power of which has been compared to the WalMart Sustainability Index and Packaging Scorecard. This is a “purchasing initiative to drive sustainability and workplace safety, and designed to improve the public’s health”.
With the understanding that “Kaiser Permanente spends more than $1 billion each year on medical products”, this new initiative will have far-reaching benefits to all medical facilities looking for more sustainable and healthful purchasing options.
Just last year the American Medical Association (AMA) approved a new Sustainable Food Policy. Research supports that locally produced and organic foods “reduce the use of fuel, decrease the need for packaging and resultant waste disposal, preserve farmland … [and] the related reduced fuel emissions contribute to cleaner air and in turn, lower the incidence of asthma attacks and other respiratory problems.” And already more than 250 hospitals have signed the Health Care Without Harm’s (HCWH) Healthy Food in Healthcare Pledge, which promotes sustainable food systems in their facilities.
Large and small, local and national, medical facilities are embarking on plans and programs that contribute to better human health, resource conservation, and community engagement. And what better places to be examples for us all than our health care centers? Connecting human health and the environment benefits us all.