Updated on 07/16/08
When U.S. News released its annual ranking of America's Best Hospitals, we ranked healthcare facilities in many categories, but "greenest" wasn't one of them. The greening of hospitals is a topic making the rounds at medical conferences, with an increasing number of healthcare facilities looking to minimize their environmental footprint. According to noharm.org:
- Healthcare facilities expend about twice as much energy per square foot as a commercial building
- Hospitals generate more than 2 million tons of solid waste per year—15 pounds of waste per patient every day
- Hospitals are the fourth-largest source of mercury discharge into the environment.
Some of our best hospitals have taken steps toward becoming greener, from adding more efficient lighting to collecting rainwater for indoor plants. Here are a few examples:
Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, ranked No. 10 on our orthopedics list, uses green cleaning products and energy-efficient lighting. All new buildings being constructed in the medical complex will be LEED certified, with green roofs that collect rainwater, recycled materials used in walkways, and natural lighting and gardens to promote healing—a big focus for green hospital advocates.
New York-Presbyterian University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell, which ranked in our top 10 for endocrinology, gynecology, heart surgery, kidney disease, neurology, orthopedics, psychology, and urology, uses eco-friendly cleaning materials. It provides special training for staff members on how to minimize their impact when cleaning or prepping patient rooms (The green features for both Rush and New York-Presbyterian were developed by sustainable architecture firm Perkins + Will).
The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, ranked in our top 10 for ear, nose, and throat disorders, geriatric care, orthopedics, psychiatry, and rheumatology, is building a LEED-certified new children's hospital, which will open next May. UPMC purchases renewable energy credits, has all but eliminated mercury, and has a comprehensive recycling system.