By Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal

Fremont's Washington Hospital has earned an Environmental Excellence Award from Practice Greenhealth, a national organization for health care institutions that have made a commitment to environmentally responsible practices.

The ⿿Partner for Change Award⿝ was presented in recognition of Washington Hospital⿿s achievements in developing programs to prevent pollution, reduce and recycle solid waste, eliminate mercury, reduce water and energy consumption and establish ⿿green⿝ purchasing policies.

Some of the environmental accomplishments during 2009 and so far this year that contributed to the excellence award include:

  • Reduced the use of bottled water by replacing 5-gallon dispensers with filtered tap water in employee break rooms wherever possible.
  • Purchased micro-fiber mops that save water, reduce bacteria and reduce use of toxic cleaning chemicals.
  • Implemented a hospital-wide recycling program, placing more than 40 recycling bins in employee break rooms and conference rooms and educating staff about proper recycling procedures.
  • Implemented food composting in the cafeteria. All food waste is now composted through Fremontâ¿¿s municipal facility.
  • Reduced cardboard usage by requesting delivery of fresh produce in re-useable totes.
  • Eliminated Styrofoam cups and take-out containers from the cafeteria, replacing them with a combination of compostable and recyclable plastic containers, and replacing plastic eating utensils with compostable ones.
  • Assisted over 200 employees with filling out Stop Junk Mail kits. This effort will help eliminate 3.8 tons of paper waste per year and over 5 years will conserve 345 trees and 142,100 gallons of water and prevent the release of 93,380 lbs. of carbon dioxide.
  • Converted printing of the hospitalâ¿¿s Currents newsletter to recycled paper.
  • Installed a new software system called Waste Tracker that records waste and recycling activity hospital-wide to improve future recycling efforts.
  • Initiated development of plans for eliminating toxic mercury from hospital products and components.

  • Implemented re-useable sharps containers hospital-wide, which is expected to eliminate sending 9.1 tons of plastic to the landfill.
  • Developed a plan to introduce re-useable commuter mugs for hospital employees.
  • Implemented a medication take-back program for the public, which allows people to drop off unused medications at Washington Hospital. In 2009, the hospital collected one ton of medications that otherwise would have gone into the sewer system or a landfill.
  • Installed numerous water-free urinals, which will result in significant water savings.
  • Replaced disposable laundry bags with re-useable bags, which will reduce our waste by 13,000 pounds per year and save almost $4,000 per year.
  • Conserved energy and produced significant dollar savings by using fluorescent lights in place of incandescent bulbs on the construction site for the new energy plant, saving $149,854 over the 30 months of construction.
  • Replaced refrigeration condensers, which will save 1.3 to1.4 million gallons of water per year for a cost savings exceeding $30,000 annually.
  • Hosted the first annual â¿¿Letâ¿¿s Go Green Together⿝ community event with a farmers market, an exhibition hall for local agencies and vendors engaged in green activities, and educational games for families and children. Also provided free drop off of e-waste, confidential documents for shredding, sharps, and unwanted medications.
  • Organized a â¿¿Zero Waste⿝ event where no trash containers were available at the annual employee dinner during Hospital Week. All event refuse was composted or recycled instead of being sent to the landfill.

⿿We worked very hard to earn this award,⿝ said Paul Kelley, director of Biomedical Engineering and Green Initiative at Washington Hospital. ⿿Practice Greenhealth presented Environmental Excellence Awards to only 245 institutions nationwide, which is a very slim percentage of the many health care organizations around the country. We plan to continue our efforts to educate our staff and the community on ways to reduce our environmental impact, as well as to decrease our use of paper, increase recycling and minimize the use of bottled water. The Partner for Change Award really validates what we are doing.⿝

Copyright 2010 American City Business Journals

Copyright 2010