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Environmental Measures Mean Healthy Returns For Hospitals

hospital_sign.jpgMore hospitals are discovering the economic and environmental benefits of greening their operations, Nurse.com reports.

Hospitals face fines beginning at $40,000 per day if pharmaceuticals are not recycled n compliance with requirements set by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

In 2007, Parish Healthcare Center, in Port St. John, became the first hospital in Florida to receive LEED Silver certification. Shands Cancer Hospital, under construction at the University of Florida, is factoring environmental impact into building decisions whenever possible, partly to reduce costs.

The hospital will also encourage energy efficiency from its staff as well, by putting in staff showers and bike racks, and allowing employees who drive hybrid cars to park closer to the building.

“Most of the cost savings come from energy efficiencies,” says Brad Pollitt, vice president of facilities for Shands HealthCare.

Through a partnership with Gainesville Regional Utility, heat will be captured by Shands’ own energy plant, and turned into steam. Part of the steam will be run through a steam chiller, and the rest will go to the hospital’s heating requirements.

Hospital and nursing home building projects in Massachusetts soon may be subject to environmental standards to win state approval under regulations proposed by health authorities there, the Boston Globe reports. Massachusetts would be the first state to tie approval of healthcare construction to green standards.

Some Bay State hospitals are already greening their halls, and roofs. After a $600 million expansion underway Massachusetts General Hospital, half of the roof will be covered with vegetation and the atrium will have gardens. Hospital executives say they hope to improve health and the bottom line.

“It’s simply a better way to do business,” said David Hanitchak, director of planning and construction. “It provides a better environment for patients. And we need to be as efficient as possible because nobody wants to pay more for what we’re doing.”

Last year, the Premier healthcare alliance signed group contracts to integrate greener computers and electronic devices in hospitals. And according to this article, the green movement will change the way health care buildings are designed and constructed.

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