Prioritizing Environmental Sustainability in Healthcare

Walt Vernon, PE, LEED AP, EDAC, FASHE

Principal, Chief Executive Officer
6/02/15

Catch the first part of this trip in my previous blog post re trends impacting healthcare.

I spent Sunday at the Executive committee and today at the Council meeting for the International Federation of Hospital Engineering (IFHE). This organization is comprised of member organizations from around the country. The US is represented by the Healthcare Institute (HCI). Leo Gehring, President of HCI, and I represent the US to this impressive global body.

IFHE’s objectives:

  • To promote, develop and disseminate hospital engineering technology
  • To compare international experience
  • To promote the principle of integrated planning, design and evaluation by improved collaboration between the professions
  • To promote more efficient management of operation, maintenance and safety of hospitals, their engineering, installations, equipment and buildings
  • To offer collaboration with other international organizations

I am honored to be a part of the organization, and even more honored after my first day at work. One of the things I appreciated was the recognition of the hospital facility engineer’s responsibility to operate his/her building in such a way as to minimize the adverse impacts on the natural environment.

Today, the IFHE approved its first ever Environmental Policy…

The IFHE believes that in the global context and alongside patient safety, environmental sustainability in Healthcare Facilities Management is the issue of most significance to be promoted. The IFHE will make every opportunity to promote Environmentally Sustainable outcomes to its member associations.

Further, the IFHE recognizes that, “Global trends in disaster management indicate that catastrophic events associated with extreme weather events linked to the effects of climate change are having a considerable impact on healthcare facilities,” and is focusing on both mitigation measures and adaptation measures for both the developed world and the developing world.

According to the IFHE, “Sustainability should be achieved by the application of measurable targets with regular and accurate monitoring, and should also reduce financial impacts.”

One project I undertook when working with the WHO was the first and, so far as I know, only estimate of Global Greenhouse Gas emissions for the healthcare sector. That analysis was very crude, relying on very few data sources and much extrapolation. One great opportunity we are creating now, through the IFHE, is collecting more data. And in effect, we can build much better estimates of this impact and its change over time.

What can you do to help?

I would like to invite anyone one who reads this, to help in this effort. I am looking for any and all data sources on the number of facilities (inpatient and outpatient); size of facilities; and environmental impact of healthcare facilities anywhere in the world. We have tons of information; we need tons more. Together, we can do this math, and then, we can pull together to make things better. Organizations like IFHE and HCI are helping to point the way to this brighter future.

Contact me if you’re interested to get involved.

Walt Vernon

Aaron Schiess, PE

Associate, Senior Mechanical Engineer

Allan Hendrikse, PE, LEED AP BD+C

Senior Associate, Electrical Engineer

Anareli Catalan

Technology BIM Specialist

Andy Neathery

Technology BIM Specialist

Angelica Chow

Electrical Designer

Arturo S Salud

Associate, Senior Electrical Designer

Austin Barolin, PE, CEM, LEED AP O&M

Associate, Senior Energy Analyst

Bethany Beers, CCP, LEED AP BD+C

Energy & Commissioning Consultant

Bill Caron, PE, DBIA

Associate Principal, Senior Mechanical Engineer

Bill Hinton, CNMT

Associate Principal, Senior Project Manager

Brennan Schumacher, LEED AP

Associate Principal, Lighting Design Lead

Brian Hageman, LEED AP

Associate Principal, Plumbing Discipline Lead

Brian Hans, PE, LEED AP

Associate Principal, Senior Mechanical Engineer

Brian J. Lottis, LEED AP BD+C

Associate, Senior Mechanical Designer

Brianne Copes, PE, LEED AP

Senior Associate, Mechanical Engineer

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