I was recently asked what percentage of hospitals in the United States has started work on environmental stewardship activities. My answer is 100%. Every hospital has an action-oriented staffer who’s taken it upon themselves to do the right thing: a nurse collecting no-longer-needed medical supplies, an administrative staffer collecting toner cartridges for recycling, or an architect looking for low-flow water fixtures.
NewYork-Presbyterian (NYP) takes a top-down and bottom-up approach to its environmental stewardship initiatives. An Energy Star Partner of the Year for more than six years, it has five major sites—four in Manhattan and one in White Plains, N.Y. There are 7 million square feet and 15,000 employees. In 2010, NYP developed its Green Champion program, after Harvard University’s Green Office Resource, as a way to engage and make progress at the departmental level.
With firm leadership engagement and a designated sustainability officer, the hospital set up teams and programs, mission language, and an oversight committee for strategic direction and structure. In addition, its Green Champion program is a way to formalize and harness the passionate departmental staffers, capture their individual and collective commitment, and use it as a vehicle for education, communication, and programmatic feedback.
Jessica M. Prata, MPA, NewYork-Presbyterian’s corporate director, sustainability office, recognizes the value of the departmental champions to help extend the program and help drive initiatives across the campus. The designated Green Champion is a good communicator and leader in his or her department. Initially, about 200 staffers stepped up to volunteer for the post. The program was formally launched by the chief operating officer through each of the five locations.
Let’s meet a few of NYP’s Green Champions and find out why the work is important to them.
Danielle George, RN, operating room nurse, NYP/WC
“I’ve always been involved in environmental conservation in my personal life and saw an opportunity to share these efforts in the workplace. Going green is not something the general public often associates with hospitals, and I realized there was a gap in knowledge about conservation methods that could be applied. Our biggest projects in the OR, which we’re continuing to monitor and improve, have been to initiate a recycling program and revamp our waste management by educating staff on safe disposal of waste while conserving resources. This was a huge change that really helped our staff see where we were being wasteful. Now we have a learning module for all new staff on how to safely and most effectively dispose of all waste and recyclables. A big win for me would be to see every floor in our hospital take this initiative to go green. I hope we can spread our efforts to other hospitals and work together to conserve resources.”
Adam Bartlett, MS, LEED Green Associate, project manager and Green Captain, NYP/Westchester
“To me, being a steward to the environment is a part of being a proper citizen of the planet, and a prerequisite for membership in the human family. If you take away all the technological marvels of the modern world, all you have left is what we all started with—the air, the dirt, the water, the plants, and the creatures. If we don’t work to protect those base elements, then we’re being disrespectful to everything that got us here and to future generations. In my capacity as a construction project manager, I’m currently working on a LEED-registered project that’s repurposing a 90-year-old building. I would love to see alternative energy production explored at this campus. We have so much land, and I think solar arrays would be a fantastic addition.”
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