Setting the Standard for Sustainability in Healthcare
North Shore-LIJ Health System is dedicated to achieving healthier operations and reducing our carbon footprint. In 2010, North Shore-LIJ Health System's carbon footprint equated to 254,631 metric tons of carbon dioxide — equivalent to heating and operating 30,902 homes for a year. We are committed to continuing to reduce our carbon footprint. In fact, from 2009 to 2011 we reduced our carbon footprint by 15.6 percent! Our New York City hospitals are among the 13 hospital organizations participating in Mayor Bloomberg's PlaNYC Hospital Carbon Challenge.
We are achieving our carbon-reduction goals through:
- Focusing on “green” facilities
- Reducing the use of natural resources
- Seeking sustainable building materials and design
- Reducing waste and encouraging recycling
- Streamlining transportation and distribution channels to reduce motor vehicle pollution
- Purchasing environmentally preferable products
- Developing an efficient IT infrastructure
Green Facilities, Energy and Water Usage
North Shore-LIJ’s sustainability and social responsibility initiatives have a strong focus on “green” facilities and reduction in use of natural resources. North Shore-LIJ participates in the EPA Energy Star Partnership Program; our signed agreement with the EPA was established in 2010. Recently, as part of the development of our SSR strategy, the health system organized an expanded, multi-year survey of its energy usage and overall carbon impact to more readily measure progress against our goal of reducing our carbon footprint by 20 percent by 2020. And we are well on our way — between 2009 and 2011 we reduced our carbon footprint by 15.6 percent!
North Shore-LIJ is committed to pursuing U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) LEED® certification in its new building construction and major renovations, and seeks innovation in sustainable design, green building materials and energy-efficient systems. Currently, more than 45 projects have been registered for certification.
In 2012, The Katz Women’s Hospital at North Shore University Hospital became the first hospital project in New York, and only third in the country, to be awarded the LEED® Platinum certification, the highest rating awarded by the USGBC. With the Platinum rating, on average, The Katz Women’s Hospital uses 18.6 percent less energy, 51 percent less water and 100 percent of the electrical power consumed in its first two years of operation will have been generated using renewable energy from wind power in Texas.
In addition to system-wide initiatives, engineers at Glen Cove Hospital are hard at work improving the energy efficiency and operations of this busy community hospital. Their efforts to conserve energy have earned Glen Cove the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's distinguished Energy Star award in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. It is the nation’s symbol for superior energy performance and environmental protection. Glen Cove is only one of two hospitals in New York State that has earned this prestigious award for four years in a row. And, only six hospitals nationwide have achieved this same recognition.
Meanwhile, at Southside Hospital in Bay Shore, New York, a new solar energy facility consisting of a 50 kilowatt photovoltaic rooftop array has successfully generated 27,325 kilowatt hours of electricity in 2011. North Shore-LIJ hopes to add additional facilities to the list of those employing solar systems.
Waste Management: Reduction and Recycling
As part of its sustainability and social responsibility in healthcare initiative, North Shore-LIJ has installed recycling bins in all of the system hospitals and plans to advance the work done with staff at each facility on major waste reduction and recycling initiatives. Proper sorting of waste, recycling and hazardous materials is paramount to our efforts to reduce our overall consumption, particularly of single-use items, and divert trash from landfills.
North Shore-LIJ has instituted a major recycling program across all system facilities. Recycling containers have been placed in strategic locations at each of the hospitals and off-site locations and, since 2010, we have recycled 8,208 tons of waste.
The health system is also currently diverting a large percent of the construction and demolition debris from our new construction sites from landfills.
Drug Take-Back Days
Since 2010, the health system has partnered with the US Drug Enforcement Administration on several Drug Take-Back Days. Through this program, over 1,300 pounds of unused or expired medications were collected at North Shore-LIJ facilities alone. This program helps to reduce the amount of unused prescription drugs that currently enter landfills and drinking water systems.
A state-of-the-art food bio-digester, lovingly named “Chester,” was installed at Lenox Hill Hospital in 2011. Chester helps Lenox Hill divert 1,200 pounds of food waste from landfills each day. The health system continues to explore opportunities to install brothers and sisters for Chester at other hospital kitchens.
Meet “Chester,” the food bio-digester at Lenox Hill Hospital.
Sustainability in Transportation and Distribution
A key contributor to the health system’s carbon footprint is motor vehicle pollution — from trips to and from our facilities by our patients, employees and visitors, transportation and distribution of goods and operation of our ambulance fleet. Given the serious effects of direct and indirect vehicle use on air quality, the environment, energy consumption and travel safety in our communities, North Shore-LIJ is committed to finding an effective path to reduce vehicle miles travelled and the resulting pollution.
A Streamlined Distribution Center
North Shore-LIJ recently opened a new center to streamline medical/surgical supply distribution. The manufacturers deliver most of the products used by the health system’s hospitals to the center. Reusable totes of supplies are then assembled and distributed to each nursing unit. With this facility, manufacturers have one delivery point, which reduces energy consumption and vehicle miles traveled. It also allows the center to have direct control of the recycling of the corrugated cardboard resulting from the deliveries to ensure high recycling rates.
Safer Chemicals for a Safer Healing Environment
As a health system, we seek to create a safer healing environment for patients, employees and visitors that is free from hazards posed by chemicals that are toxic, irritating or noxious. North Shore-LIJ intends to reduce or eliminate the purchase of environmentally hazardous or otherwise undesirable chemicals through the purchasing of environmentally preferable products.
Safer Healing Environments
The health system's Environmental Services Department has switched to Green Seal-certified cleaning products. Green Seal certification is given to products and services that comply with “a rigorous set of criteria designed to achieve leadership levels in sustainability.” When a stronger cleaning agent is required to kill specific bacteria and germs, Environmental Services has implemented a safety program to ensure minimal impact on people and the environment. Solvents used in many North Shore-LIJ laboratories are recycled rather than put into the waste stream, and the health system has reduced mercury in our hospitals by 90 percent.
Efficient IT Infrastructure
Smooth operation of our health system and the delivery of quality care rely on a vast and efficient IT infrastructure. Running this network requires a significant amount of energy and materials and North Shore-LIJ is committed to reducing our impact from these activities. Our IT team is also committed to bringing technological solutions to the challenges faced across the health system in implementing our comprehensive SSR efforts.
North Shore-LIJ is utilizing our vendor partners to handle our various IT waste streams more effectively and efficiently. Today, we dispose of our shredded confidential documents at a pulp facility that recycles the material into new paper products. We also ensure responsible recycling of e-waste and last year donated over 300 data-scrubbed BlackBerry devices to those in need. As part of the upgrade of the television systems at North Shore University Hospital, 12,344 pounds of e-waste were recycled and the health system as a whole continues to pursue recycling and proper disposal for all large-scale replacement efforts. We have also converted capable networked printer devices throughout the health system facilities to default to double-sided and the initiative has received significant positive feedback from employees.
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