Many hospitals go against the practice of sustainable of development and environmental conservation. They contribute to pollution and environmental destruction through emission of carbon into the atmosphere, water wastage, unhealthy food and misuse of energy. These actions not only destroy the environmental but also contribute to high disease prevalence (HealthIT 2012). The concept of green hospitals has evolved over time to offer answers to some of the challenges.
Waste Toxins: many hospitals contribute to environmental pollution through toxic wastes. The used and expired drugs and packaging materials if not properly disposed of may lead to environmental pollution. For example, Hospitals normally dispose of explosive organic elements such as formaldehyde and naphthalene. The toxins when breathed delay the recovery of the patients and make the staff sick.
Energy Usage: many hospitals contribute to energy problems through use of fossil fuels and energy inefficient appliances. Some facilities leave the machines running throughout while they are not in use.
Waste training: the hospital staff can be trained on effective waste management strategies. The focus should be to train them on how to handle the waste from the facilities. The training should focus on waste treatment before disposals to avoid pollution and release of harmful chemicals into the environment. The facilities should adopt waste recycling strategies to help in resource conservation. Water from the buildings can be directed into a reservoir where it can be recycled, treated and put into use again.
Energy efficiency: green hospital policies should take into account need for energy conservation. The facilities must use energy efficient bulbs for lighting. Solar panels can also be installed to provide backup energy and help in cost saving. Solar energy is preferred because it is recyclable, clean and abundantly available. The management must also ensure that the appliance used in wards, offices, and labs are energy saving. All equipment and computers bought should be energy saving.
Costs: rebuilding hospitals require huge investments. The costs cover reconstruction, designs, and maintenance. According to Wilhelm (2005), ‘additional costs associated with green buildings are about 2 percent while the financial benefits are about 10 times'. Further, the average cost premium of rebuilding green is about $5 per square foot (Wilhelm, 2005).
Savings: Green hospital designs help in cost saving among the patients and hospital management. The patients will incur fewer costs of treatment due to faster recovery and reduced exposure to new infections. In the long term, the hospitals realize reduced energy costs (Institute of Medicine, 2007). . Similarly, the reduced staff turnover due to cleaner work environment results into savings in the human resources costs.
Reports by Healthier Hospitals Initiative shows that green efforts by 370 hospitals where about 50 million pounds of waste materials were recycled led to savings worth $32 over million (Realworldhealthcare, 2013). Some hospitals experienced more than 37.75 % savings on cleaning products when they opted to use green cleaning materials. Green buildings lead to about 1 % increase in staff productivity (Wilhelm, 2005).
Evidently, green hospitals have more benefits than the conventional ones. The health of the patients, employees, the surrounding communities and the environment are negatively affected by harmful hospital practices. Green hospitals have numerous benefits. They include reduction in energy, water, and wastes’ costs as well as limited emission. Further the facilities experience reduction in operation and maintenance costs, fewer insurance costs and enhanced staff productivity (Wilhelm, 2005).
Leadership: the top hospital management must offer leadership in adopting the green energy model. The CEOs must fuse the green energy initiatives with the strategic plane and make all stakeholders embrace the concept. The focus of the leadership should be all inclusive strategies to improve the staff productivity, health of patients and staff and overall wellbeing of every occupant and the general environment (Wilhelm, 2005). Such leadership approaches make the green hospitals have positive impacts on the environment, stakeholders, and the corporate bottom line. Driving the change require effective evolution of emerging external demands, visionary leadership, and the ability to reconcile the competing interests within the hospital institutions (Institute of Medicine, 2007).
Building: there is a correlation among the design of hospitals and material used and human diseases. Hospitals need to adopt green building designs. The construction and operation techniques adopted must offer integrated approaches to effective energy use, hospital building operations and maintenance.
Purchasing: Purchasing the green hospital materials require proper planning and execution. The facilities must employ qualified staff in the procurement section and have experts to test the equipment purchased. According to Guenther, Vittori, and Atwood (2006), the purchase decision should not be about cost saving but saving of the environment. Hospitals thus need to develop policies that specify how they purchase certain products and materials, with a focus on environmental sustainability and green initiatives.
Guenther, R., Vittori, A. & Atwood, C. (2006). Values-Driven Design and Construction:
Enriching Community Benefits through Green Hospitals. Retrieved from
HealthIT (2012). Benefits for Critical Access Hospitals and Other Small Rural Hospitals.
Retrieved from http://www.healthit.gov/providers-professionals/benefits-critical-access- hospitals-and-other-small-rural-hospitals
Economics: Workshop Summary. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK54151/
Realworldhealthcare (2013). Groundbreaking Report Spotlights Benefits of Going Green for
Hospitals. Retrieved from http://www.realworldhealthcare.org/2013/09/groundbreaking-report-spotlights-benefits-of-going-green-for-hospitals/#sthash.Fuhf8AwZ.dpuf
Wellness Environment (2010). Benefits of green construction. Retrieved from
Wilhelm, M. (2005). Green Building Specifics: Costs, Benefits and Case Studies. Retrieved from