Eco-consciousness is increasing the demand for sustainable industries. Hospitals and other medical facilities generate significant quantities of waste, decreasing their eco-friendliness. They can adopt green technologies and emission reduction practices to improve their sustainability.
Patients hold little power over the environmental effects caused by the health care industry. It is up to the facility owners and managers to engage in environment preservation methods. Before evaluating the strategies, it’s vital to examine the environmental challenges within the sector.
Pollution Generated By Medical Facilities
Hospitals in America produce nearly 29 pounds of solid waste per patient daily. A significant portion of trash derives from pharmaceuticals, municipal and hazardous waste, biohazardous excess and more. Once it leaves a facility, the garbage piles up in landfills, increasing surface and marine pollution levels.
Another contributing factor to health care industry waste is greenhouse gas emissions. About 80% of the U.S. power supply comes from fossil fuels. When medical facilities use electric machines and other devices, they contribute to the enhanced greenhouse effect.
Naturally, Earth’s atmosphere maintains life-sufficient surface temperatures by converting solar radiation into a specific quantity of heat. After generating heat, it warms the surface, gathers excess energy, produces additional warmth and emits unnecessary heat to space. When air pollutants invade the atmosphere, they alter this process, creating environmental degradation.
Greenhouse gases have a higher sunlight-to-heat exchange rate. They also trap excess warmth in the environment instead of sending it to space. Over time, the production and entrapment of heat raises Earth’s temperature.
Raising the global temperature significantly alters the ecosystem’s functionality. Fortunately, medical facilities can decrease their emissions and solid waste production, preserving the environment. There are four ways the health care industry can enhance its sustainability.
1. Ditching Paper
Paper waste in America accounts for 1 billion trees’ worth of clear-cutting annually. Vegetation is essential to limiting the enhanced greenhouse effect because trees filter carbon emissions before reaching the atmosphere. Facilities can decrease paper waste production and air pollution by going digital.
Many medical facilities around the country use the MyChart program and other electronic information platforms. The technology uploads an individual’s records to the cloud, helping professionals access important data from their computers or tablets. Patients can also fill out forms online before coming into the office or facility, decreasing wait times.
Transitioning from paper toward digital information platforms significantly decreases waste. Facilities can increase their sustainability and improve atmospheric conditions when using paperless programs.
2. Installing Smart Lights
Some health care facilities are decreasing their greenhouse gas emissions by installing smart lighting systems. They contain lights with sensors that turn the system off during optimal sunlight hours. Utilizing natural light significantly reduces the emissions associated with electricity use.
Other health care buildings place a solar film over their windows, improving natural lighting without affecting indoor temperatures. During low sunlight hours, facilities may rely on light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs, enhancing sustainability.
LED bulbs rely on 75% less energy than incandescent versions. They also last 25 times longer than conventional bulbs, reducing waste over time. Facilities can additionally save money on their utility costs when using energy-efficient bulbs and lighting systems.
3. Eliminating Single-Use Plastic
Single-use plastic waste creates ecological challenges, which medical facilities can reduce. Producing plastic goods requires large quantities of energy and oil, generating atmospheric degradation. Inadequate waste management techniques also increase surface pollution and create adverse effects on marine ecosystems.
Green medical facilities are transitioning away from single-use plastics and adopting reusable containers. Hospitals traditionally reuse medical utensils after sterilizing them in plastic-based blue wrap. The material accounts for nearly one-quarter of all medical facility waste.
Now, professionals are using reusable sterilization containers, limiting plastic trash. Engineers designed the cases for stability and efficiency to withstand years of use and reduce additional waste.
4. Relying On Local Goods
Some medical facilities are engaging in farm-to-hospital food programs. Rather than outsourcing preserved foods to feed patients, hospitals are supporting local farmers and improving the quality of their meals. Purchasing from nearby farms decreases transportation emissions and limits the use of preservatives.
Reducing the quantity of processed foods in a hospital also improves patients’ health. Preserved foods contain high counts of salt, sugar and other health degrading additives. Medical facilities can enhance their sustainability and consumers’ well-being by sourcing food from local agricultural facilities.
The Importance Of Sustainable Medical Facilities
Surface and air pollution produce adverse human health effects. When hospitals and other medical buildings decrease emissions and waste production, they support their community’s well-being. Enhancing the sustainability of a facility reduces ecological and health-related degradation.