Healthcare currently accounts for 16% of our nation’s GDP, and is expected to rise to 20% by the year 2015. Hospitals are great employers, too – 4.6 million people with their 24/7 operations. They also spend about $8.3 billion each year on energy, are often the largest water users in a community, and produce over 2 million tons of waste per year. Aha! I see a greening opportunity here.
Practice Greenhealth is the nation’s leading membership and networking organization dedicated to education and the “greening” of healthcare. I attended a session of the Greenhealth Academy titled, Infrastructure & Process for Sustainability in Healthcare. An educational session of Practice Greenhealth’s program, it was held at the LEED Certified Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research and Development Center in LaJolla, CA.
This is good stuff. Looking at environmental opportunities through the lens of health improvement versus just sustainability. Connecting human health and the environment. Going beyond creating a healing facility to using the precautionary principle, to first do no harm, to create a healing environment. Herein lies an opportunity to educate staff and patients about commitment to community, to health, and to the environment. And what better venue for this to happen than in a health care setting?
There are really some very standard areas and strategies going toward sustainability in healthcare, but there needs to be good leadership and quality engagement in order for it to be successful long-term. In my consulting work at Eco-Stream, I have addressed Energy, Water, Waste, Transportation, Purchasing, Food, and Engagement. Practice Greenhealth offers members the opportunity to access resources, case studies, and lessons learned from others. There is a fabulous opportunity here for connections to be made to the benefit of all.