Award-Winning VT Hospital Says It’s Easy to Adopt Environmentally Sustainable Practices


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The University of Vermont Medical Center claimed the top number of awards this year in national organization Practice Greenhealth’s annual examination of environmentally responsible healthcare. This is the sixth consecutive year that UVM Medical Center has been recognized.

“We’re very proud that our commitment to continuously improve our green performance is being recognized again by Practice Greenhealth,” Wes Pooler, director of facilities management, said in a news release put out by the university. “This is the result of taking small steps every day to be the most environmentally responsible organization possible, and the credit goes to our leaders and employees who enthusiastically embrace this mission.”

UVM received nine awards, two more than runner-up Cleveland Clinic. Those awards were:

  • The Top 25 Environmental Excellence Award
  • The Leadership Circle of Excellence
  • The Chemicals Circle of Excellence
  • The Less Waste Circle of Excellence
  • The Greening the OR Circle of Excellence
  • The Healthy Food Circle of Excellence (awards for both the main campus and the Fanny Allen Campus)
  • The Green Building Circle of Excellence
  • The Greenhealth Emerald Award

Greening Healthcare

What steps did UVM take that other healthcare providers might want to imitate?

Dozens of initiatives were implemented in the past year, but school leaders highlighted converting to LED lighting, re-processing some operating room equipment to as-new specifications, and replacing faulty steam traps for a payback in only eight months (old, inefficient steam traps, used on steam energy and heating systems, can waste more than $8,000 in steam every year).

The broader healthcare system, including manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies, may also be evolving to be more environmentally conscious. When Newsweek released its 2015 Green Rankings of the world’s largest corporations, the top three were all healthcare companies.

The first- and third-place finishers were U.S. companies. Biogen Inc. claimed the top spot with a “green score” of 89.2%, and Allergan Inc. was scored at 84.2%. Irish biopharmaceutical company Shire Plc, which operates extensively in the U.S., came second with a score of 85.1%.

When President Obama kicked off National Public Health Week this past April, he even brought particular attention to how public health and the health of the environment are intimately connected, calling on the healthcare industry to be leaders in environmentally positive change.

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