The new year brings new opportunities to engage in the growing movement toward a green and sustainable healthcare sector. For more than 10 years, Health Care Without Harm and our partners have been working with leading healthcare systems, health professionals, architects and designers, purchasing professionals, and product manufacturers to craft successful strategies for the sustainable design, construction, and operation of healthcare facilities—strategies that protect the environment, enhance patient and worker health, improve performance and, often, save money.

As demand for these services has grown, we have also grown and changed. Now we are embarking on an exciting new chapter. We are launching a new organization that combines and builds upon several successful initiatives that have a track record of success in improving the environmental performance of healthcare. As of January 2008, our sister organization Hospitals for a Healthy Environment (H2E) and the Green Guide for Health Care will join forces as Practice GreenHealth, a new nonprofit member-based organization that offers a full range of tools, resources, and strategies for achieving environmental excellence in healthcare.

While Health Care Without Harm will continue to advocate for policies that set the high-bar for sustainability standards, our partners at Practice GreenHealth will provide the tools and resources to help the rubber meet the road. The mission of the organizations remains the same—to educate, motivate, and engage healthcare professionals in adopting best environmental practices that increase operational efficiency and improve the health of patients, staff, and the community—but we are offering greatly enhanced services and products, including:

  • A brand new Energy Exchange Program exclusive to Practice No Harm members that can reduce energy costs between 6-12%, while improving your carbon footprint.

  • Strategies and services to achieve the integrated design, construction and operation of high-performance healing environments, as defined by the Green Guide for Health Care. The U.S. Green Building Council's LEED program for Healthcare Certification, due to launch this spring, will be based on Green Guide for Health Care strategies, and our members have access to the source text and customized consulting services to aid in the certification process.

  • Powerful tools and resources including webinars, the medical waste audit tool, peer networking events, the Environmental Excellence Awards, best-practice database, environmentally preferable purchasing database, and a new Business Alliance.

Our new identity symbolizes our recognition of the huge strides the healthcare industry has made and that our members have achieved toward a sustainable healthcare sector. We've moved beyond awareness of green ideals and into the real-world implementation of strategies for environmental health. We can see the “healthy healthcare system” we aspire to becoming real. As each day passes, we add to the pool of knowledge and tools that brings our industry closer to the goal.

May the New Year find us all closer to achieving “no harm” practices. We look forward to working with you to help make that happen. For more information about services and membership, visit http://www.PracticeGreen Health.org.

Also in 2008: Don't miss CleanMed, the premiere environmental conference for healthcare leaders. The conference draws together leaders from across the healthcare supply chain to share successes and celebrate cost-effective sustainability strategies. CleanMed 2008 will be held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, May 20-22, 2008; Environmental Excellence Awards will be presented on the 20th, followed by conference proceedings (visit http://cms.h2e-online.org/awards/ for details). Register today at http://www.CleanMed.org. HD

Anna Gilmore Hall, RN, is the Executive Director of Health Care Without Harm.

For more information, visit http://www.NoHarm.org. To comment on this article, visit http://healthcaredesi.wpengine.com.