Environmental Issues for Hospitals—Get Compliant as You “Go Green!”

Geoff Glanders, President, August Mack Environmental, Inc., IN

 

Recently, there has been a tidal wave of interest from hospitals in joining the “Going Green” initiative spearheaded initially by various environmental groups. The effort to “Go Green” is beginning to have an impact in the healthcare industry nationwide as facilities strive to achieve LEED certification. Numerous facilities are modeling their innovative LEED approach after Oregon’s Providence Newberg Medical Center, which was the first hospital to receive a Gold certification. Additionally, the “Going Green” initiative can help hospitals lower their energy bills, reduce wastes, improve indoor air quality, and provide a healthier healing environment for patients.

 

Meanwhile, the EPA is focusing on healthcare facilities as one of its major compliance enforcement initiatives. Over the last five years, compliance inspections and enforcement have increased at all types of health care facilities. In New England alone, the EPA has uncovered more than 1,100 violations amounting to $9M in penalties. However, the EPA has been willing to waive a number of these fines if a hospital conducts a voluntary audit or enters into an agreement to conduct one in the near future. The benefit of conducting a voluntary environmental audit allows the hospital to not only identify and address the areas of deficiency at their facilities, but it also can educate the hospital staff on common hospital violations so they can be proactive in addressing these areas of concern.

 

Ultimately, a hospital’s effort to “Go Green” can bring a tremendous amount of goodwill to facility since it is willing to invest the time and resources in the process. However, hospitals should be careful to not put this goodwill at risk by neglecting the ongoing environmental compliance responsibilities of the hospital’s day-to-day operations.