Vol. 1 2014: Green Healthcare — Creating a Healthier Environment for Patients, Families, Caregivers, and Employees
A green hospital can host many benefits, from protecting the environment, reducing energy costs, and improving the health and wellbeing of patients, families, caregivers, and employees. Due to a hospital’s 24-hour operation, and the volume of people working in and visiting a hospital, there are many opportunities for a hospital to contribute to sustainability.
Aging Baby Boomers
Americans born between 1946 to 1964[i] and Canadians born between 1946 to 1965[ii] are considered part of the “baby boomer” period. In North America, this represented a substantial growth, totaling approximately 76 million babies born in the US[iii], and more than 8.2[iv] million babies born in Canada during this time.
With an increased need for aging baby boomers to require healthcare facilities in the coming years, hospital spending will naturally increase. Due to the rise in prices for water and energy, baby boomers may create a financial challenge for hospitals in the future if they do not start planning for a sustainability program today.
Becoming Water Conscious
Water is a precious and increasingly costly resource, and hospitals need to do what they can to save money and display a positive image to the public about water conservation.
|Sloan Wall Hung Toilet With Solis Concealed Valve.||Gerber 21-014 Avalanche Elongated 1pc 1.28 gpf|
The following are ways a hospital can be energy and water conscious.
- Install water efficient toilets that have an average flow rate of 1.28 gpf (4.8 lpf) or less.
- Replace standard faucets with water efficient faucets that consume no more than 1.50 gpm (5.7 lpm). [vii]
- If a hospital uses a single pass cooling system for kitchen refrigerators, freezers, or MRIs, water becomes wasted because it goes through the system only once, followed by going down the drain. Choosing a closed loop cooling system recycles and re-cools the water, which is more water efficient.[viii]
- Replace water-cooled air conditioning units with air-cooled units. [ix]
- Take advantage of water saving incentive programs. Below are two examples of incentive programs:
- The City of Toronto offers the Capacity Buyback program to hospitals. This program provides an incentive of $0.30 per litre per average day of water saved. [x]
- As part of the California Energy Commission, the Energy Efficiency Financing Program provides hospitals with low-interest loans for the installation of energy savings measures.[xi]
|Did you know…? Hospitals generate many categories of waste, but not every item of waste needs to be tossed into a landfill. When setting up a hospital recycling program, in order to create one that is well executed, staff, patients, caregivers, and visitors need to partake. Placing signs and dual recycling bins (cans/bottles, and paper) around the hospital, act as an encouragement and a reminder for everyone to recycle.Why create a recycling program?[xii]
US hospitals are third only to food service and food sales in terms of consumption of energy per square feet.[xiii] A simple and effective way in which hospitals can reduce their energy consumption is by maximizing daylight. Benefiting from natural lighting can be achieved through a variety of ways, from adding large glass windows with ledge seating, to skylights.[xiv] In addition to being sustainable, natural lighting helps speed up recovery by combating seasonal affective disorder, winter depression, and improving the moods of patients, staff, and visitors.[xv]
Hospitals should also consider including light sensors, and low energy LED bulbs, as these will assist in improving a facility’s operational efficiency.
|Did you know…? Tips to Cut Costs at a Hospital:[xvi]
Hospitals should be conscious of the interior decor used within their facilities. They are a place to heal, and some irritating chemicals used in wall paint, furniture varnishes, and cleaning agents could be causing more harm than good. Sick patients with weak immune systems should be free from harmful toxic chemicals in order to avoid extended hospital stays.[xvii] “According to the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), there is a trend of faster healing time among patients admitted to green healthcare facilities, which leads to shorter stays and faster turnaround.”[xviii]
|Trespa Interior Panels – Cité de la Santé, Quebec, Canada|
Stainless Steel – An Ideal Material for Healthcare Facilities
|Blücher Adjustable Shower Drain, Square Type No. 150.300.050|
Stainless steel is a recyclable, corrosion resistant, and durable metal that can be used to make sinks, counter tops, and even bathroom or kitchen drains. Stainless steel is an ideal material to use in any healthcare facility due to its smooth and non-porous surface, which makes bacterial grow significantly lower than plastic or ordinary steel surfaces[xix].
Case Study: Dell Children’s Medical Center
Dell Children’s Medical Center, located in Austin, Texas, is the first hospital in the world to earn platinum certification from the US Green Building Council for LEED.[xx] This hospital is a 32-acre hospital focusing on the wellbeing and health of patients by limiting the use of harmful chemicals, incorporating bright and colourful rooms, clean air, and beautiful gardens.
Green design is not just incorporated inside the facility; the hospital has six themed courtyards containing 30,000 square feet (2,787 square metres).[xxi] These courtyards brighten the interiors, reduce the need for substantial lighting, and contain plant species from within the six eco-regions within the hospital’s 46-county service area. Since these plants grown within these courtyards are native, they require less water, in turn saving 1.4 million gallons (5.3 million litres). The gardens are considered healing gardens due to their therapeutic benefits. Children and their families can sit back and relax, play, or participate in engaging outdoor activities. [xxii]
Other sustainable choices at Dell Children’s Medical Centre include: [xxiii]
- 1.7 million gallons (6.4 million litres) of water is saved each year on low flow bathroom fixtures.
- Reflective roof material and light coloured sidewalks.
- Green roofs.
- High efficiency fluorescent lights.
- Automatic on/off switches with motion sensors.
- High efficiency air conditioning.
- Saves enough energy power to heat and cool 300 average sized homes each day.
- Concrete used is a high percentage of fly ash – recycled by-product of coal-fired power plants.
- Renewable materials are used throughout their facility, such as cork and linoleum flooring, which comes from plants and trees that regenerate quickly.
- Chairs are made with recycled material.
- All patient rooms are provided with independent lighting and temperature controls
Each hospital has a set budget, and with the increasing price in water and energy, hospitals need to find a way to manage these rising cost of doing business. Being Green does not have to mean building a completely new building. Making small changes such as installing water efficient faucets, implementing a recycling program, or using non-toxic cleaning supplies are just some ways that a hospital can reduce costs, conserve our resources, and provide a healthy environment. When it comes to hospitals, a small change can go a long way.
[i] “Will the Baby Boom Bust Healthcare”. Barry Calogero and Anne Marie Halfmann. Web 18 February 2014. <http://www.tefen.com/fileadmin/editorial/babyboom.pdf>.
[ii] “Generations in Canada.” Statistics Canada. Web 18 February 2014. <http://www12.statcan.ca/census-recensement/2011/as-sa/98-311-x/98-311-x2011003_2-eng.cfm>.
[iii] “Will the Baby Boom Bust Healthcare”. Barry Calogero and Anne Marie Halfmann. Web 18 February 2014. <http://www.tefen.com/fileadmin/editorial/babyboom.pdf>.
[iv] “Generations in Canada.” Statistics Canada. Web 18 February 2014. <http://www12.statcan.ca/census-recensement/2011/as-sa/98-311-x/98-311-x2011003_2-eng.cfm>.
[v] “Will the Baby Boom Bust Healthcare”. Barry Calogero and Anne Marie Halfmann. Web 18 February 2014. <http://www.tefen.com/fileadmin/editorial/babyboom.pdf>.
[vi] “Generations in Canada.” Statistics Canada. Web 18 February 2014. <http://www12.statcan.ca/census-recensement/2011/as-sa/98-311-x/98-311-x2011003_2-eng.cfm>.
[viii] “Water Conservation & Health Care”. David Gargaro. Web 18 February 2014. <http://davidgargaro.blogspot.ca/2011/12/article-reprint-water-conservation-and.html>.
[ix] “Water Conservation & Health Care”. David Gargaro. Web 18 February 2014. <http://davidgargaro.blogspot.ca/2011/12/article-reprint-water-conservation-and.html>.
[x] “Water Conservation & Health Care”. David Gargaro. Web 18 February 2014. <http://davidgargaro.blogspot.ca/2011/12/article-reprint-water-conservation-and.html>.
[xi] “Funding Opportunities”. Green Building. Web 5 March 2014. <http://www.epa.gov/greenbuilding/tools/funding.htm>
[xii] “Waste Not”. Health Facilities Management. Bill Turpin and Dr. Linda D. Lee. Web 18 February 2014. http://www.hfmmagazine.com/hfmmagazine/jsp/articledisplay.jsp?dcrpath=HFMMAGAZINE/Article/data/01JAN2011/0111HFM_FEA_enviro&domain=HFMMAGAZINE
[xiii] “How are Hospitals Going Green”. Colleen Cancio. Web 18 February 2014. <http://home.howstuffworks.com/home-improvement/construction/green/hospitals-going-green.htm>.
[xiv] “Green Hospital”. Dr. Amandeep Singh and Dr. Anshu Jain. Presentation. Web 18 February 2014. <http://www.slideshare.net/KnowlittleMatharu/green-hospitals>.
[xv] “Green Hospital”. Dr. Amandeep Singh and Dr. Anshu Jain. Presentation. Web 18 February 2014. <http://www.slideshare.net/KnowlittleMatharu/green-hospitals>.
[xvi] “9 Ingenious Ways to Cut Costs at Your Hospital”. Becker’s Hospital Reviews. Web 19 February 2014.<http://www.beckershospitalreview.com/racs-/-icd-9-/-icd-10/9-ingenious-ways-to-cut-costs-at-your-hospital.html?utm_source=Canadian+Green+Health+Care+Digest+Issue+%2374+-+March+1%2C+2013&utm_campaign=Green+Digest+%2374&utm_medium=email>.
[xvii] “Green Hospital”. Dr. Amandeep Singh and Dr. Anshu Jain. Presentation. Web 18 February 2014. <http://www.slideshare.net/KnowlittleMatharu/green-hospitals>.
[xviii] Green Plumbing For Health Care — Make The Efficient Choice, Allied Technical Services.
[xix] “Blucher Drainage Systems, Commercial Applications”. Web 19 February 2014. <http://www.blucher.ru/ble800/adddl.nsf/web/CUDownload/$File/CUApplicationBrochureCommercial.pdf>
[xx] “Dell Children’s is Green”. Web 19 February 2014. <http://www.dellchildrens.net/about_us/about_our_green_building/leeds_interactive_slideshow/#slide_1>.
[xxi] “Dell Children’s Medical Center – Austin, TX”. Web 19 February 2014. <http://tbg-inc.com/folio/dell-childrens-medical-center-of-texas-austin-tx/>.
[xxii] “Dell Children’s Medical Center – Austin, TX”. Web 19 February 2014. <http://tbg-inc.com/folio/dell-childrens-medical-center-of-texas-austin-tx/>