PASADENA, Calif. — California is in the midst of a drought and we hear it everywhere; it’s even on our freeway billboards. So while our neighbors are watering less, what are businesses doing? Are large organizations doing their part? At Kaiser Permanente, we can respond with a resounding yes.
Just last month, Kaiser Permanente Southern California, Goodwill Southern California and the Los Angeles Better Building Challenge hosted the 2014 Healthcare Energy and Environmental Sustainability Conference, with more than 100 health care operations, maintenance and clinical care leaders from Los Angeles hospitals coming together to share best practices and inspire innovation.
Environmental stewardship leaders from Kaiser Permanente guided the conversations on how we can best serve the environments we work and live in by making local sustainability a top priority.
“Water conservation is so crucial during a drought and will become even more important as we deal with the effects of climate change. Sharing best practices and leading by example will help us create a sustainable future for our city and region,” said Matt Petersen, chief sustainability officer for the City of Los Angeles.
“Water conservation projects not only have positive implications for organizations, but our communities as well,” Petersen said.
Kaiser Permanente is leading by example. At our Woodland Hills Medical Center, we installed smart irrigation controllers that account for weather patterns to reduce the amount of water used. These controllers, along with eliminating turf and choosing native and drought-resistant plants, have reduced water usage at Woodland Hills by 50 percent and at Panorama City Medical Center by 60 percent.
Jan Herman, MD, chair, Southern California Permanente Medical Group Environmental Sustainability Committee, noted that water conservation can indirectly improve the health of building occupants. When we work and live in a clean and sustainable environment, we can lead healthier lives.
These successful water-maximizing practices are part of a developing Southern California strategy to more efficiently use our water resources at facilities throughout the region. “Individual employees and teams are increasingly pointing out significant water-saving opportunities that will help Kaiser Permanente to achieve our goal of reducing our water use intensity,” said Joe Bialowitz, principal environmental stewardship consultant, Kaiser Permanente.
John Yamamoto, vice president, government and community relations for KPSC, announced that to create and maintain healthy communities, we will continue to embrace our environmental responsibilities — from the boilerroom to the boardroom. Throughout the conference, and echoing throughout the region — Kaiser Permanente’s call to action is clear: this is our mission and our commitment, to our members and our communities.
Scott Wendling is the regional executive and sustainable resources officer at Kaiser Permanente Southern California.