The effects of climate change and benefits of sustainability become clearer over time. With growing public expectations, government mandates and associated incentives, healthcare facility managers are prioritizing climate-resilient and environmentally sustainable operations.
The Benefits of Sustainability
Over the next few decades, facilities will integrate sustainability initiatives into facility operations to reach long-term targets. Achieving these goals will require time and continuous development. Creating an effective plan to reduce your organization’s carbon footprint can make these efforts easier to manage and more impactful.
The advantages of sustainable operations extend from environmental and social interests to financial performance. Sustainability benefits patients, associates and your community’s overall health and resiliency. A healthy environment creates less pollution and optimizes use of resources, both of which support the mission of healthcare and preventative care. Additionally, facilities can boost their recruitment and retention efforts through environmentally conscious programs that demonstrate the organization values the health and well-being of associates and communities.
Using life-cycle cost analysis, facility managers can build the business case that programs
aiming to improve energy efficiency, conserve water and reduce waste are both environmentally beneficial and cost-effective. New sustainability requirements come with external support and incentives
to support the implementation of renewable energy and other sustainability projects. In addition to federal mandates, sustainability initiatives are now required and incentivized at healthcare facilities within specific states and municipalities. Keeping an eye on new legislation and incentives can help your facility prioritize short-term goals and receive the necessary support to meet long-term sustainability targets.
Identifying Focus Areas
Whether your facility relies on a dedicated sustainability team or delegates the responsibilities across the organization, facility-wide collaboration is crucial. Working together and choosing specific priorities for short-term and long-term goals will help guide your facility in a purposeful direction.
For many healthcare facilities, reducing waste is a significant goal. Each year, U.S. hospitals produce more than 5 million tons of waste
, which translates to more than 29 pounds of waste per bed per day. A waste management plan is key.
Waste management plans can include using reusable products; marking waste collection containers so they are easily distinguishable, and items end up in the right place; evaluating vendor relationships to make use of all recycling opportunities; and ensuring your team receives continued education and reminders on best practices and government regulations for medical waste. Further, environmentally preferred food purchasing can have a significant impact. Sustainable food purchasing can help protect patients from antibiotic resistance, while partnerships with food distributors can ensure your facility receives locally produced food.
Energy management is a prominent aspect of sustainable operations and decarbonization. Healthcare facilities consume nearly 10% of the total commercial energy used nationwide
, which costs more than $8 billion every year. Focusing on energy-efficient operations and transitioning to renewable energy sources will ensure both cost savings and positive environmental impacts.
Multiplying your facility’s efficiencies can have impacts beyond energy usage. The Medxcel Energy platform focuses on key aspects of sustainable operations, including waste management and water conservation, in addition to identifying energy programs. Since building efficiency is largely dependent on the skilled operation and reliability of systems, continuous systems monitoring is essential for ongoing performance and savings. This is why Medxcel Energy operations analysts continuously monitor critical facility systems for all of our facilities using fault detection analytics from our Building Automation Systems.
Establishing actionable areas of focus, such as waste and energy management, will help guide your sustainable operations.
Working Toward the Future
Effective planning strategies help leaders implement environmentally conscious practices into their operations and minimize their carbon footprint. In long-term plans, incorporating sustainable solutions directly into the facility’s design prior to construction, renovation and maintenance will create lasting benefits for daily operations.
Plans should be flexible enough to accommodate continuously changing best practices for sustainable operations. Allow changes in the market and data analytics to determine when to adjust your plan so your facility operates as efficiently and sustainably as possible.
Setting long-term targets with associated plans will create climate-resilient healthcare facilities to provide care for our communities in the decades to come. As sustainability becomes a priority and requirement, these strategies will become easier to implement and have a wider impact.
To learn more about integrating sustainability targets into your facility’s operations and establishing efficient waste management and energy systems, request a consultation
with our team.