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“Go Green” and save green: How to be eco-friendly without breaking the bank
You’re well-aware that the health care industry is devoted to improving the lives of others, which is why it makes perfect sense that more hospitals and clinics throughout North America are going green.In addition to being environmentally conscious and improving the quality of life for patients and visitors, many green efforts save organizations big bucks in the long run, and these efforts can actually bring in additional revenue. In fact, it has been estimated that every dollar a nonprofit health care organization saves on energy is equivalent to generating $20 in new revenue.It’s true that, on a large scale, going green can be expensive. But, you don’t have to install solar panels or build new LEED-certified facilities to make a turn for the greener; there are plenty of steps your health care organization can take that are easily adaptable and affordable.

Get started
Start by promoting awareness among all employees—let them know when, why and how your organization is going green. Be sure to communicate how these efforts will affect employees and patients, and let them know how they can do their part.

After the announcement is made, provide staff with a Recycled Pen, Note and Flag Set or Jute Tote to drive home the message and keep ‘green’ at the top of their minds. Or, go one step beyond and encourage them to take the green mentality home: provide fun and informative EcoHome Energy Conservation Kits.

Keep moving
Here’s when the real work starts

  • Try seeing things in a different light—increase the natural light in your office space (which is better for us anyway!) by opening blinds or adding skylights. Replace light bulbs and standard fluorescent bulbs with Energy Star-rated compact fluorescent light bulbs instead. These bulbs use two-thirds less energy than standard bulbs and generally last longer.
  • Make it a policy that office staff turn off non-critical computers, monitors and other office equipment at the end of each day.
  • Cut waste and recycle. Virginia Mason’s Medical Center and Hospital recycles all their food (they don’t even have trash cans in the cafeteria!) while the University of Washington Medical Center participates in a paper shredding and recycling program that saves them $70,000 a year.
  • Speaking of cafeterias, encourage your kitchen manager and nutrition staff to seek out sustainable produce, meat and poultry that are free of pesticides, hormones and antibiotics. These shopping choices help the environment and up your menu’s flavor factor!
  • Go paperless. Follow the lead of many health care organizations and convert to electronic records. If you don’t already, use an intranet system for communicating with employees across all service lines, and use it to provide electronic access to documents such as employee handbooks and safety manuals. Intranets are also a great venue for facilitating employee rideshare programs or forums for employees to problem-solve other green efforts on your organization’s behalf.

Start by thinking small. Baby steps like these can make a valuable impact in your health care organization and lead to bigger steps like addressing the building and overhauling the entire way you provide care. Get started with your plan to go green today to do what you do best—taking care of others and improving the quality of life for patients, visitors and the community.

“Going Green in Health Care.” HFMA – Healthcare Financial Management Association. Web. 2 Nov. 2009.

10 Ways to Go Green at Work.” The Green Life. Web. 25 Nov. 2009.

Hospitals go greener to improve bottom line.” Seattle News, Sports, Entertainment | www.seattlepi.com – Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Web. 25 Nov. 2009.

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