A week or so ago I was tweeting about the new movement to reduce waste from operating rooms (“greening operating rooms”), and I received an interesting response from the folks at Emory Healthcare in Atlanta. It turns out we have a shared interest.

I am a huge fan of the healthy hospital movement and  had no idea that Emory had driven a stake in the ground, making a firm commitment to being more earth-friendly. Their sustainability practices are extensive. Taken individually, none of them are that earth-shattering. But collectively, they make an impact. And I would not underestimate the importance of an organization like Emory taking the time to articulate a clear commitment to environmental sustainability. That action sets a tone for the organization and makes a statement to all of its constituents. It also helps to define a trend for other healthcare organizations around the country.

Here is a bulleted list of some of the steps Emory Healthcare has taken:

Ways Emory Healthcare Reuses:

  • Since March 2007, Emory Healthcare has collected more than 112,631 pounds of supplies for MedShare.
  • Emory Healthcare volunteers have sorted more than 8,000 pounds of supplies at MedShare’s headquarters.
  • Fryer grease from the food services departments in Emory University Hospital and Wesley Woods is collected and converted into biodiesel for some of the Clifton Corridor shuttles. This fuel is environmentally-friendly and keeps grease out of our water systems. (Source: Emory website)

Ways Emory Healthcare Recycles:

  • In 2007, Emory Healthcare recycled 813.13 tons. In 2008, Emory Hospitals’ recycling total went up almost 20% to 969.38 tons. That’s almost 2 million pounds or material recycled in two years.
  • The Emory Clinic saved more than 3,000 trees in 2007 by sending shredded paper to a recycling company.
  • In 2007, Emory Hospitals recycling tonnage increased by 64.79 tons.
  • Confidential document shredding increased 10.5% in 2007.
  • Since April 2008, Emory Healthcare has added more than 75 recycle containers throughout its hospitals and is looking to include more departments and locations in its recycling efforts.

Ways Emory Healthcare Reduces:

Reduce our water use

  • Many toilets, showers, and sinks in the Emory University Hospital Midtown diagnostic and treatment center use low flow water devices. For example, select toilets in Emory University Hospital Midtown have dual flush valves that flush up or down for water savings. These valves use 1.1 gallons per flush and 1.6 gallons per flush, respectively. This is a 46% increase in water savings compared to the previous valves, which used 3.5 gallons per flush.
  • In drought conditions, all Emory Healthcare facilities turn off indoor and outdoor water features and irrigation sprinklers.
  • At The Emory Clinic, most toilets and sinks now have automatic sensors. This translates to automatic flushing for the toilets and automatic on/off sensors for the sinks.
  • At Emory University Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital, we have purchased a new dishwasher machine and disposer that use water saving technology.
  • The Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University uses captured ground water for irrigation purposes.

Reduce energy use

  • Emory University Hospital Midtown, Emory University Hospital and the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University use a unique energy recovery system. Energy wheels use air exhausted from the facility to pre-heat outside air in the winter and to pre-cool outside air in the summer.
  • All doorway exit lights in Emory University Hospital Midtown and most exit lights in The Emory Clinic have been replaced with light-emitting diode (LED) lights. These long lasting LED lights do not require additional energy to heat the filament and save energy.
  • On the inpatient units at Emory University Hospital Midtown, patient care stations are equipped with task lighting which uses high powered LED lights.
  • The Emory Clinic sections reduce energy use by exchanging incandescent bulbs for compact fluorescent light bulbs.
  • At Emory University Hospital Midtown and in new renovations at The Emory Clinic, motion detection devices have been installed in equipment rooms and bathrooms to save electricity when people are not present.
  • The Emory University Hospital Midtown diagnostic and treatment center has automatic speed controls for all air handlers. Also, The Emory Clinic uses variable speed dials on air handlers to reduce energy use.
  • In most Emory Healthcare facilities, thermostat presets allow temperatures to be controlled and changed when not in use.
  • To help reduce traffic and automobile carbon emissions, Emory Healthcare and Emory University offer employees a robust alternative transportation program. Options include vanpools, carpools, park & ride shuttle service.
  • Heating, air-conditioning, and ventilation systems in our hospitals and Clinic are the most efficient designs available for a comfortable environment.

Reduce the impact of chemicals

  • The Emory Healthcare purchasing team uses eco-friendly supplies and equipment whenever possible.
  • The Emory Clinic has applied for Green Seal® approval for cleaning processes and supplies.
  • Emory University Hospital Midtown and Emory University Hospital use the Ecolab ProGuard System, a comprehensive cleaning system with which environmental service technicians are provided with the procedures and tools to address daily hospital challenges.

Environmentally Friendly printing

  • When producing materials, and when ever possible, Emory Healthcare uses companies whose printing and print processes are certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative and the Forestry Stewardship Council.

You can learn more about Emory’s green initiative by going to http://www.emoryhealthcare.org/about-us/sustainability/reduce.html.

Post By Dan Dunlop, The Healthcare Marketer

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