Many years ago, it was common practice for doctors to make house calls. Over time, healthcare was centralized in offices or hospitals to increase efficiencies. As technology advances, physicians are once again able to make “house calls”, albeit virtually. Virtual visits allow the healthcare industry to practice sustainability in ways they haven’t been able to before, such as operating in a smaller footprint, redeveloping existing buildings to be more efficient and utilizing resources more thoroughly.
Considering Sustainability Standards
When thinking about facility planning and the changes seen in delivering healthcare within communities, what should organizations consider for new strategies from a sustainability perspective? One area that has shown great success is the implementation of design and construction standards. Through establishing the appropriate minimum architectural and engineering requirements for facilities, leaders can garner control over costs as well as the sustainability opportunities associated with such requirements. Organizations may profit from both the drive toward standardization and the accomplishment of large economies of scale and efficiency, with the added advantage of sustainable practices, via proactive planning.
We at Medxcel are strong supporters of such design guidelines. The push for sustainability is a trend that is expected to continue, and public awareness of these measures has grown substantially over the last decade. Consumers expect corporate responsibility, and more businesses are working hard to achieve sustainability.
Adapting New Technologies
Technology is at the heart of achieving long-term sustainability goals. As more companies make long-term commitments to sustainability, like net-zero carbon by 2040, they attract entrepreneurs and investors who will innovate and help build future solutions to make these objectives a reality. One example of long-term sustainability is the evolution of LED lights in the last decade, now a staple in almost every type of healthcare facility.
Within regulatory bodies and national standards, we are seeing the push to adopt sustainable practices. Organizations like the Facility Guidelines Institute (FGI) are requiring more sustainability attributes within facilities, which is driving more efficient construction life cycle efficiencies and changing their overall energy profile. In general, this method is used on longer-term institutional buildings and yields long-term benefits.
How Organizations Can Affect Change
For organizations looking to start with small changes that have meaningful impact, the greatest opportunity is found in efficient operation of existing equipment. If operations are not improved, efficiency is lost, which has a negative impact on desired sustainability figures. Through analysis of operational processes and procedures, organizations can find efficient practices that offer great savings in almost every situation.
Depending on how a facility collects data, there are a variety of opportunities for implementation of sustainability practices. A good starting point is considering a facility’s energy intensity – analyzing trends in utility bills can provide opportunities for energy savings. Another factor to examine is waste management, specifically measurements for recycled items relative to metrics for garbage sent to the landfill. Data analysis allows facilities to start small with existing practices and work their way up to long-term goals.
Lastly, organizations should analyze their sourcing. Every organization purchases a variety of products. Questions should be raised such as:
- Do the products we are purchasing have sustainable attributes?
- Are the methods of delivery for those products to our facility sustainable?
- Are the packaging materials of these products sustainable or do they create a lot of waste?
We all have a part to play in the impact on our environment. At Medxcel, our facilities and our associates are committed to delivering the best care by finding new ways of merging healthcare with the technology to promote sustainability across all our facilities.
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