Sustainability Improvements for Healthcare Facilities

Updated on July 29, 2019

Sustainable healthcare facilities are facilities that continually deliver high-quality healthcare and work to improve public health without causing any severe ecological damage or exhausting its natural resources. It isn’t something that’s hard to imagine, but it can be difficult for facility administrators to accomplish. Instead, it’s typically something that facilities offering green healthcare continuously work toward by following steps similar to these.

Hire an Eco-Friendly Cleaning Service

Hiring a sustainable cleaning service has several benefits for hospitals. Eco-friendly cleaning involves the use of products that are made using environmentally friendly ingredients, which means patients and staff members aren’t exposed to harsh chemicals that could affect their breathing or cause a skin reaction. It can also help with infection control. For example, the University of California Davis Medical Center completed a study that showed while traditional cotton-loop mops reduced the number of bacteria on the floor by 30%, microfiber mops reduced the bacteria on the floor by 99%. 

Cut Down on Red Bag Medical Waste

It costs more for hospitals to dispose of red bag medical waste than it does regular trash, so not only does reducing the amount of toxic medical waste you have decrease costs, it also helps reduce your hospital’s carbon footprint because it reduces the amount of trash you’re sending to landfills or incinerators.

It’s important to consistently train employees to know what belongs in the red medical waste bags and what can safely be thrown away in the regular trash can. Some other solutions you can implement include:

  • Placing smaller medical waste bags in patients rooms. This helps prevent patients and visitors from using medical waste receptacles for non-toxic trash. If possible, position medical waste containers where they aren’t accessible by anyone other than staff.
  • Purchase reusable products instead of single-use products. Some medical instruments and containers are able to be sanitized and reused safely, which helps reduce the amount of red bag medical waste you have. Be sure to read the product and manufacturer’s instructions to see if the products you’re using can be used more than once.
  • Place your red bag waste containers from other trash receptacles. If the medical waste trash sits next to regular trash bins, it makes it easy for people to accidentally place trash in the wrong bin.
  • Post signs and visuals reminders above the toxic waste bins to remind people how to use them properly.

It’s also a good idea to conduct waste audits on a regular basis to make sure your policies and procedures are being followed. If they aren’t, you should share your findings with your staff members and possibly conduct retraining sessions.

Look for Ways to Conserve Energy

Rising costs are one of the main challenges healthcare leaders face, and because energy costs are often drastic for large facilities, it’s always a good idea for hospital administrators to constantly look for ways to conserve energy. Based on a standard 5% profit margin, saving $1 on energy costs results in $20 in new revenue. This means at a 20% annual energy savings, a $100,000 energy conservation project could generate $400,000 in new revenue each year. Some ways to reduce energy costs include:

  • Replacing lighting systems with newer efficient lamps.
  • Reduce excessive illumination
  • Install low-flow plumbing fixtures and automatic hands-free controls to reduce water heating costs
  • Optimize the HVAC system to cool/warm only spaces in use
  • Install solar panels on the roof
  • Replace old, outdated equipment with newer, more energy-efficient models

Making a hospital more sustainable isn’t something that happens overnight. It’s a process you need to work on continually, over long periods of time. But eventually, you’ll begin to reap the benefits of the changes you make.

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