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A Road Map To Help Hospitals Cut Waste and Save Cash

The health care system is one of those things that we can’t afford to lose to resource shortages and a crunched economy. But hospitals have to start making changes now if they want to become more efficient, which is why the American Hospital Association (AHA) recently launched the Sustainability Roadmap for Hospitals, an online portal that teaches hospital management how to achieve three benchmarks: Stopping increases of fossil fuel consumption by 2015, dropping fossil fuel consumption to 40 percent below current levels by 2020, and cutting fossil fuel consumption to 80 percent below current levels by 2050.

The Sustainability Roadmap is a doozy, with detailed information on building design and construction, energy, water, waste, chemicals, leadership, team-building and more. In the waste category, the Roadmap lists a number of easy-to-implement solutions to slash water use. These include eliminating the use of mercury-filled devices, beginning a cardboard and paper waste recycling program, dealing with waste from large construction projects, and setting a baseline hazardous waste generation rate.

The Roadmap includes success stories, too. The Cleveland Clinic, for example, saved $4 million by installing LED-fixtures system-wide and replacing 56,000
incandescent lamps with CFL bulbs.

Most of the Roadmap’s suggestions are obvious enough that sustainability-minded hospital executives could probably figure them out on their own. But the site is so detailed that hospitals without any previous knowledge of conservation and energy efficiency could quickly make progress. If only every industry offered such a comprehensive sustainability portal, going green might not seem like such a tedious process.

Ariel Schwartz can be reached on Twitter or by email.AS