October 15, 2015

Our hospitals are among country's greenest

Industry magazine recognizes two hospitals that include environmental health as part of their mission.

Two Kaiser Permanente hospitals — one in Oregon, one in California — are among the “50 Greenest Hospitals in America,” according to Becker’s Hospital Review. The magazine published a list of hospitals earlier this month that it considers industry-leading in sustainable innovation and design.

The Kaiser Permanente Westside and San Jose medical centers were included on the list for their efforts to reduce their environmental footprints.

The Kaiser Permanente Westside hospital in Hillsboro, Oregon, is an ambitiously sustainable hospital. Opened in 2013, it earned LEED Gold certification for its pedestrian friendly campus, abundant use of natural sunlight, and use of healthier materials for fabrics, upholstery, furniture and fabrics, among other things. Paved walkways on campus wind through dry creek beds and native gardens irrigated completely with harvested rainwater. It hosts a weekly farmers market on its outdoor plaza, and solar panels generate clean energy onsite.

The hospital was the first Kaiser Permanente hospital to earn LEED Gold certification, an internationally recognized mark of excellence in environmental and energy-efficient design. Since then, several more Kaiser Permanente facilities have earned LEED certification, including:

Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical Center in California won a 2015 Practice Greenhealth Healthy Food Circle of Excellence Award for its work with local farmers to bring sustainable, locally grown food to patients, staff and others. The San Jose Medical Center hosts two weekly farmers markets on campus, serves hormone-free milk in cafeterias and vending machines, and offers patients “Meatless Monday” menu options to reduce consumption of meats and saturated fats. Studies show that meat production produces significantly more greenhouse gases than vegetables.

The hospital’s active “green team” has helped it earn several Practice Greenhealth awards in the past for recycling and reducing waste. The medical center diverts more than 30 percent of its trash from landfills and has reduced its water use intensity by more than 25 percent in the past two years.

While these award-winning hospitals are exemplary, Kaiser Permanente demonstrates a commitment to sustainability at all its facilities.

Kaiser Permanente earned 20 environmental excellence awards this year from Practice Greenhealth for its environmental performance. Practice Greenhealth is a national nonprofit membership organization for hospitals and health systems committed to environmentally responsible operations and care. It honors hospitals annually for outstanding environmental achievements as well as demonstrating continued success in recycling, reducing waste and eliminating mercury.

Becker’s editorial team looked at Practice Greenhealth award winners and analyzed sustainability information from such sources as the U.S. Green Building Council and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to develop its 2015 list.

Becker’s included the Kaiser Permanente Roseville Medical Center in California among the 50 greenest U.S. hospitals in 2013, the previous time it published its list.