Each year, Practice Greenhealth collects and compiles comprehensive sustainability data from hospitals that report through the Environmental Excellence Awards. Practice Greenhealth is then able to provide the sector’s best performance benchmarking data to hospitals and health systems working to build environmental stewardship into their mission.
Sustainability initiatives can add value, reduce negative health and environmental impacts, and save critical health care dollars – substantiated by the environmental performance data coming out of health care. The 331 hospitals that contributed data as a part of the 2020 Environmental Excellence Awards submissions collectively saved $103.8 million on sustainability initiatives in 2019, while putting more than $553 million toward sustainable spending on environmentally preferable products and materials. These hospitals reduced more than 127 million kBtus of energy, diverted 141,171 tons of waste from the landfill through recycling, and avoided 177,735 metric tons of carbon emissions through mitigation projects.
The annual benchmark report highlights the best practices for sustainability integration in 10 different impact areas, while also providing relevant benchmarks for improving hospital performance. The 2019 data also provides one of the few public snapshots of greenhouse gas emissions from health care, including emissions from energy use, inhaled anesthetics, and meat/poultry purchases. Hospitals can utilize the data in the report to drive organizational goal-setting and investment in sustainability programming. Some highlights include:
- More than 60% of hospitals reported they made a formal external commitment to taking climate action, while the same percentage of hospitals provided education on the connection between climate and health to their staff, patients, clinicians, and/or the community in the past year.
- Hospitals implementing environmental initiatives in operating rooms saved more than $72.4 million in aggregate in 2019, with a median savings of over $100,000 per facility.
- Reporting hospitals are driving the market for safer and more sustainable products in health care and spent more than $194 million last year on EPEAT-registered electronics, more than $3.7 million on third-party certified green cleaning chemicals, $164 million on furniture and furnishings that avoid target chemicals of concern, and nearly $50 million on sustainable foods and beverages in 2019.
- About 76% of facilities indicated they are actively working to reduce the amount of meat and poultry purchased for cafeteria/retail and patient food services, while 66% of facilities now prefer to purchase sustainably-produced meat and poultry.
Benchmarking data is also available for long-term care facilities and academic medical centers.