Climate change is increasingly a focus of discussion in healthcare, given that healthcare accounts for about 10 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Hospitals are anchor institutions that must be resilient and remain functional, especially after a severe weather event. While the Earth cannot be saved from climate change overnight, one small change can lead to a systemic change. Here’s how your healthcare facility can make little changes that will lead to a big impact:
This one is easy. Purchase blue recycling bins and set up next to trash cans, so that employees and patients will think twice before dumping everything into the trash cans. Do not use liners in the recycling bins and keep items clean and dry. Contact your local waste management company to arrange recycling pickup.
Idea: arrange for each department or unit to have their own recycling bins. Whichever department has the most recycling wins a prize like lunch on the company.
2. Save files digitally
While some documents are necessary to have on paper, many hospitals are well on their way to saving space and saving the earth by using a shared drive. This can lead to less of a headache for everyone when it comes to searching for a file—instead of manually going through a never-ending stack of papers, the command-F or control-F function is there to search all files at one time, for you. Check with your organization's Information Technology (IT) department for security requirements and procedures regarding shared drives.
Shared drives allow employees to access files from home, their favorite coffee shop, or while on the go, which leads into the next point:
3. Allow employees to work from home (depending on job function)
If employees work from home, there’s less pollution going into the atmosphere, which would improve air quality and decrease the level of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. And there’s even more bonus here: Employees will save both time and money by not commuting to work every day, and employees tend to stay longer when their job is flexible.
4. Install water dispensing systems
There’s several options for water dispensing stations in your healthcare facility:
5. Landscape around the property
- Water bottle refill stations: these operate through the same pipes that regular drinking fountains do, except they are built for easy filling of water bottles. Some even come with a tracker that counts the number of plastic water bottles people would have used, and instead saved, just by using the refill station.
- Filtered water dispenser: These are free-standing water stations that have a five-gallon jug on top. These are usually a less expensive option but changing out the jugs may become a frequent hassle.
- Reverse osmosis (RO): This works by using a high-pressure pump to increase the pressure on the slat side of the RO and force the water across the semi-permeable RO membrane, leaving almost all dissolved salts behind in the reject stream. These can be installed so that every faucet in the office has RO water, and separate water refill machines wouldn’t be needed.
Landscaping doesn’t just bring curb appeal benefits; great landscaping means your business ends up saving money in the long run! Tall trees provide shade and prevent the sun from heating up the office as much, which will cut down energy usage and your electric bill when it comes to running the air conditioning.
Read about more benefits to having great landscaping around your business HERE.
6. Change lightbulbs to LED
LED bulbs use 80% less energy than incandescent bulbs, which means the electric bill will decrease. LEDs also do not use harmful mercury most other lamp alternatives have, which means less contamination to our environment when the bulb does go out. Medxcel is in the process of implementing LED lighting retrofits in all Medxcel-run hospitals to help continue reducing our energy footprint.