Hospital managements are now improvingly more concerning about the sustainable materials and environmental significance of their buildings. These kinds of awareness started since year 2000; it is when the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) started to endorse its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) towards the hospital standards. Many hospitals are au courant of health care, making the surroundings environmental-healing place in which these added great factor for the patience health. To have environmental-healing place, hospitals are now seeking to reduce toxins in the environment and even the structures of the building are also one of the bases to deem the healing-building as “green” one.
“The very first requirement in a hospital is that it should do the sick no harm”, said accordingly by Florence Nightingale – “The Founder of Modern Nursing”. Indeed, this must be the concept of any hospital. Ecological hospitals really contribute healthier surroundings for the health of the people that surround in the said healing-place; foremost concern is the patients, working staffs and the expected visitors of the patients. To control the spreading of germs indoor (or even outdoor), it is so significant to lessen the germs spreading out, especially to the patients who suffered from weak immune system that could easily be sick through this spreading germs. Since hospitals need to maintain the cleanliness of its surroundings, some of the hospitals will just easily used harsh chemical cleaners without looking for the consequences of it. Using chemical cleaners that are not sustainable one could easily produce respiratory problems in which some of the patients have this kind of sickness already. These will just make the situation goes into more serious matter and needs more cure as for the patients. Even the paintings of the building, the furnishing, and some used chemicals, these also produced toxic volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) such as formaldehyde – a strong-smelling, flammable and colorless chemical – that can cause burning sensations of the eyes, nose and throat, nausea and skin irritation. Since these chemical cleaners, paintings and some other organic chemicals are necessary to clean up and beautify a certain hospital, it is much being suggested to use sustainable all-purpose cleaners and low volatile organic chemicals. Through using these suggested substances, hospital can now rely “clean and green” healing surroundings and can merely help those in their care recover patients and hospitals’ staffs too.
Disposing garbage from hospitals such as the disposable materials, syringe, gloves being used and some other medical care materials must be economized to use in order to reduce non-biodegradable wastes. In addition, hospitals are now seeking for the reduction of toxins being used as medical aids. Perhaps, many hospitals, nowadays, are now omitting the use thermometers, sphygmomanometers and some others that contain mercury that had been proven harm to use. Aside from mercury, some hospitals are also omitting the polyvinyl chloride (PVC) which emits toxins in the air when this will be blazed.
The indoor lighting matters also. Research have shown that poor indoor lighting increases stress in hospital workers and made them indolent ones which leads to ignoramus and weak medical care. Obviously, hospitals need to use energy in terms of electricity for this apt indoor lighting (daylighting). But every time the hospitals used electricity, the lesser the possibility a certain hospital will be deemed to be a green one. A thing to achieve a sustainable environment in such hospital is the structure or the design of it. The suggested design, however, is having a wide door and wide window to gain more light that lessen the use of electricity. Through this lessen use of electricity; this adds a factor to attain and be deemed as green hospitals.
The Green Guide is recognizing hospitals that enhance leadership roles in terms of green and environmental stewardship. This publication identified approximately 1,300 hospitals in U.S. that are publicly achieving spearheaded green hospitals through receiving certificates and awards. The Green Guide made some bases for recognizing the most ecological hospitals ever. They based it from the three organizations: USGBC’s LEED standards; the Green Guide for Health Care (no relation to The Green Guide), which adapts the LEED program to the special needs of hospitals; and Practice Greenhealth, organizations that emphasize the reduction of mercury and waste management. Here below are the used criteria of The Green Guide for judging green hospitals.
- Location (Siting in Green Guide): Was the location of a certain hospital can easily be accessed by the patients? Is this healing place sited with consideration of alternative transportation, storm water management, urban improvised and reducing any impact of destroying environmental surroundings?
- Water Efficiency: Is the hospital abundant of water? Can this give enough watering for the hospitals’ gardens or landscape? Is this water safe to use for any purpose?
- Energy and Air Pollution: Does a certain hospital make a move of reducing the energy consumption (electricity, renewable energy) and air pollution, including the volatile organic chemicals and chlorofluorocarbon (CFC)? Does it exercise the reduction of the harsh chemicals that absolutely damaged the environment in building air pollution?
- Material and Resources: Do the materials and resources in forming the structures of the building are sustainable ones?
- Indoor Environmental Quality: Is the indoor of a certain hospital has the best quality in terms of apt lighting indoor that carries stress away from the staffs, patients and the people within the surroundings? Is it well-ventilated for the patients to easily recover from their sickness? Are the used cleaners are less containing volatile organic chemicals and some other chemicals that perhaps patients or even staffs and visitors’ respiratory problem? Are the paintings of the wall could not distract the breathing of any person of the entire surroundings?
- Healthy Hospital Foods: Are the hospital staffs preparing the patients meals with the use of organic substances that could merely help the patients’ short-term recovery? Are these foods being prepared in a clean way through the staffs?
- Green Education: Does a certain hospital exercise staffs in waste reduction, proper waste disposal, recycling and reduction of toxins used?
- Procurement: Does hospital is obtaining recyclable materials, water-abundant washing of some clothing (patients’ bed and pillow sheaths, curtains), and sustainable products?
- Contaminants: Does the hospital avail on those medically proven polyvinyl chloride (PVC) for the use of blood bags and tubing?
- Green Cleaning: What does the hospital used in cleaning? Are they using all-purpose cleaners that do not produce hazardous smell?
- Waste Reduction: Is the hospital practice proper waste disposal, segregating biodegradable waste from non-biodegradable?
- Healing Gardens: Does the hospital obtain a place where patients can easily breathe fresh air from within? Are the plants in the garden are organically fertilized?
TOP 10 Green Hospitals in U.S.
Through the use of The Green Guide criteria, green hospitals can easily be recognized. The list is not in a rank basis.
- Boulder Community Foothills: This three-storey green 60-bed hospital with 24-hour emergency department, intensive care unit, surgery, radiology and laboratory services is the first hospital in U.S. to attain the eminent LEED certification. The major components of this hospital are the pediatrics and maternity care. Ventilation, water efficiency and energy consumption are the highly prioritized of this campus. The indoor environment has definitely in the great quality leading it to gain the said certificate.
- Bronson Methodist Hospital (Kalamazoo, MI): A non-profitable hospital with 404 licensed beds and private rooms which had earned the top national honor from Practice Greenhealth for its omission of the use of mercury, recycling wastes, reduction of air pollution and the great quality of their lighting indoor. The hospital’s major components are neurological, maternity and pediatrics care.
- Kaiser Permanente (Oakland, California): A community-focused hospital with around 400 beds which received from The Green Guide a Green Gadfly Award for its less-toxic uses, PVC-free carpet and omitting the PVC from medical devices such as blood bags and tubing. This hospital also had been recognized by Practice Greenhealth for its reduction of waste materials, eliminating mercury and PVC from its medical tools and lessens the use of toxics for some medical purposes.
- Laguna Honda Hospital & Rehabilitation Center (San Francisco, California): A first Green Hospital in California with 780 beds earned its certificate for its sustainable building structure, low-VOC from medical substances, organic cleaning products, efficient lighting indoor and furnishing. These lead the hospital to be recognized from The Green Guide as one of the green hospitals and awarded as Urban Oasis Award.
- Lauder Center for Maternity Care (Sinai, New York): Through emphasizing quality standard indoor environment which leads to the reduction of PVC (phthalate plasticizers) and energy consumption as well as sustainable materials and resources, this maternity care center achieved its green success and received Against All Odds Award from The Green Guide for even the location of this medical center is not accessible still the staffs worked hard to be deserving in this green recognition.
- Legacy Health System Salmon Creek Hospital (Vancouver, WA): Through their building structures that enhance daylighting, low-toxic medical aids, energy consumption and air-chiller plant in their garden, the hospital is recognized as green one.
- The Patrick H. Dollard Discovery Health Center (Harris, New York): Instead of the use PVC wall coverings, this green-mind Center used recycled aluminum corner guards. This leads to earn the Sustenance and Shelter Award. In addition, the Center used low-VOC products and PVL-free insulation.
- Providence Newberg Hospital (Newberg, OR): With its healing garden that contains native air-freshener plants, reduction of energy used and unique ventilation and for its first aim to gain the LEED Silver Certification, the hospital received from The Green Guide as Do It For Free Award.
- The Sarkis and Siran Gabrellian Women’s and Children’s Pavilion (Hackensack, New Jersey): Through its sustainable building and great quality indoor environment, this leads them to be deemed as green hospital.
- Emory University’s Winship Cancer Institute (Atlanta, Georgia): A seven-storey building with healing garden, no-VOC paints, less VOC adhesives used, sustainable wood products and insulation and green cleaning have lead this hospital to a green success. The hospital earned LEED certification and The Green Guide “Green Ideals Award”.