In my last post (The Greening of Hospitals, Part 1: Hospitals Primed for Greening) I talked about the tremendous opportunities that await green vendors in the nationwide and global efforts to improve the environmental health of hospitals.
Take a look at the following checklists to see where your enterprise might fit in:
- Have the hospital’s diesel boilers been replaced by electric? Do the emergency generators operate on natural gas rather than diesel?
- Is the entire central utility plant as clean, efficient and compliant with environmental standards as it should be?
- Do the air handlers have a heat recapture system? (Note: The risk of spreading airborne infection makes the other option, air recirculation, inappropriate for hospitals.)
- Are the HVAC controls still pneumatic (Yes, some still are.) or have they been updated to electronic controls?
- Are variable-speed volume controls in use to turn down the HVAC automatically in offices that are empty at night?
- Have motion sensors been installed in restrooms and other spaces that are sometimes empty?
- Is the fire alarm system energy efficient?
- Are rechargeable batteries used for portable medical equipment such as ventilators?
- Has the hospital introduced fuel cells or solar panels?
- Are all the windows dual-pane?
- Are all buildings painted with a waterproofed plastic-coated material that improves insulation and utility consumption?
- Are sheets and towels washed in recycled water?
- Do the bathrooms have low-flush toilets?
- Are the grounds watered with drip irrigation?
Recycling and Re-Use
- Hospitals are required to destroy patient information before it is discarded. Does the vendor who shreds these documents recycle the shredded paper?
- Are EPA post-consumer standards being met for recycled paper products and minimal packaging?
- Are recycling bins conspicuously located throughout the building—and do employees use them?
- Is the wrapping paper from surgical instruments re-sterilized and recycled?
- Are surgical gowns and drapes disposable and biodegradable?
- Are surgical supplies such as tourniquet cuffs re-sterilized and made safe for re-use?
- Are the containers for collecting used syringes and other sharp objects thrown into the landfill or does a vendor pick up the full containers, sterilize the contents for safe disposal, and disinfect the containers for re-use?
- Are carpeting, wall surfaces and furniture chosen that do not release toxins into the air?
- Do floor scrubbers use as little water and as few chemicals as possible within the constraints of requirements for infection control?
- Is floor stripping done without chemicals?
- Are green chemicals used wherever they are appropriate and will do the job?
- Are the radioactive isotopes used in nuclear medicine transported, stored and disposed of following rigorous standards?
- Does the pharmacy use a color-coding system to sort medications, matching the drug to the color of its disposal container to minimize environmental risks?
- Are the disinfectants, solvents, preservatives and other chemicals used in the laboratory also handled with care?
Energy-Efficient Information Technology
- Has the hospital replaced desktop computers with more energy-efficient workstations?
- Have ‘virtual’ servers replaced physical servers?
- Have thin client computer devices been deployed to patient rooms as an energy-efficient alternative to laptops?
- Is organic food waste collected for composting?
- Are to-go containers recyclable and compostable?
- Does the hospital have a dehydration composter that tumbles and dries food scraps on site?
- Do the hospital’s public spaces integrate the natural world into the healing environment?
The Human Factor
- Does the hospital have a Green Team with representatives from various departments and the community?
- Has the Green Team established achievable goals for employees? (A lot of what employees can do may seem minor, but it adds up and sets the right tone.)
- Is there a program in place to educate and inspire employees to recycle and conserve?
- Does the hospital track how much energy, paper and water it uses?
- Does the hospital hold regular Energy Awareness Days? Are vendors invited? (e.g., The Staples office supply chain works with hospitals to recycle used pens and pencils.)
Gail Terry Grimes
NEXT TIME: The greening of hospitals is a national movement. I’ll share resources to learn more.