A hospital system is a 24-hour, always-on operation that not only requires significant natural resources for lighting, heating, air conditioning and other systems, but also generates waste in its daily mission to treat patients and save lives. According to the American Hospital Association Sustainability Roadmap, “health care facilities can generate up to 25 pounds of waste per day per patient.”
As part of its commitment to the community and its vision to be the best place to work, practice medicine and receive care, Sharp HealthCare is actively working to decrease its use of natural resources.
In 2009, Sharp HealthCare started the All Ways Green initiative to create and implement programs to help reduce waste throughout the organization, with a focus on energy efficiency, water conservation, waste minimization, sustainable food practices and commuter solutions.
“We wanted to take a hard look at our impact on the environment, and develop ways to reduce and minimize the impact,” says Don Carl, director of environmental health and workplace safety at Sharp. “Through the hard work of the All Ways Green steering committee, supporting subcommittees and vendors that are focused on reducing our carbon footprint, Sharp has been able to identify opportunities for improvement and implement successful programs.”
Here are seven ways in which Sharp HealthCare is helping to support the environment.
- The widespread use of energy-efficient technology, including a natural gas cogeneration plant at Sharp Grossmont Hospital. The Brady Family CoGen facility allows the hospital to generate most of the energy it needs to operate an around-the-clock business. Computer management programs to put computers and monitors in low-power sleep mode help save kilowatt-hours across the Sharp system.
- Early adoption of electric vehicle charging stations at hospitals and medical centers, as part of the nationwide Electric Vehicle Project. Sharp was the first health care system in San Diego County to offer electric vehicle chargers for its employees and visitors.
- Diverting landfill waste by partnering with Ssubi is Hope to reprocess used medical supplies to support health care in developing countries.
- Recycling more than 1,700 tons of debris from the construction of the new hospital at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center.
- Reducing paper waste through programs such as electronic bill pay, cloud-based document storage, and office supply reuse and repurpose programs.
- Reducing food waste by participating in various food sustainability programs. Sharp diverts food waste from the landfill through partnerships with cities in the region. Sharp also partners with Imperfect Produce to divert food rejected by grocery vendors for aesthetic reasons for use in Sharp kitchens.
- Promoting transportation alternatives through iCommute and Bicycle Commuter Benefit programs, as well as Sharp’s support of Bike to Work Day programming each year.