Sustainability is not a new idea within the healthcare sector or really any industry. It is one that has been around since the 1950’s when the concept of Peak Oil was introduced into the world energy conversation. Yet, sustainability only began to gain traction in the healthcare sector in the late 1990’s with the release of the EPA’s Memorandum of Understanding addressing the environmental effects of hospitals and healthcare systems.
The question is: why was there such a lag period from the introduction of the concept to the creation of actionable legislation?
One answer to that question could be a lack of push within the industry to make real changes, or possibly a lack of data to support such a claim. Any way you slice it, both government officials and many industries have waited far too long to address the impacts of their operations. At Montefiore, we did not wait for industry change or for the passing of government regulations to become proactive in our approach to sustainability.
Building sustainability through a CHP Plant
Our path began in the early 1990’s with the installation of a 5 MegaWatt Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant, which provided heating, cooling, and power to Montefiore’s Moses campus. The financial investment required for such a project did not exceed the value it added to our organization in terms of reliable, redundant and cost effective power generation. Additionally, the gas fired plant reduced emissions from the hospital, which in turn helped to create a cleaner community for our patients and staff.
This was the first of many projects related to energy and sustainability within Montefiore, but let us now fast forward 22 years to present day. Over the years Montefiore expanded both its CHP plant as well as the number of hospitals within its health system.
Hiring Dedicated Sustainability Resources
To help maintain the existing and facilitate new sustainability initiatives, Montefiore developed a sustainability team consisting of two individuals: the Energy and Sustainability Manager and the Green Initiative Liaison. The former is tasked with the responsibility of managing utility procurement and usage, incentive or grant opportunities, policy development and communication efforts pertaining to sustainability. The latter has been dubbed Montefiore’s “Waste Guru” and is ultimately responsible for monitoring and developing programs that help lead to waste reduction or proper waste segregation. By creating these positions, Montefiore has been able to generate consistent momentum towards its sustainability goals.
These goals were recently reevaluated to reflect changes within Montefiore and New York City legislation. Worth noting within these changes was an extended commitment to the Mayor’s Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability for a 50% carbon emissions reduction by the year 2025. This commitment (the original being a 30% reduction by 2017) has really been the backbone of Montefiore’s sustainability program, being that facility emissions are tied to both energy and waste. Montefiore has even been recognized by organizations like Practice Greenhealth and Westchester Green Business Challenge for its consumption and waste reducing programs.
Defining Our Own Sustainability Mission
While accolades are great for Montefiore and staff, it is not the driving force for Montefiore’s commitment to sustainability.
We feel that the ideas and concepts of sustainability tie directly to our mission, which states that we exist to advance the health of the communities we serve.
By reducing the amount of pollutants emitted to the air and waste that is sent to the landfill, we are helping to improve the quality of air and water for community members. We’re also always investigating environmentally preferable cleaning methods and products that help to create a healthier indoor working or healing environment for patients and staff alike. A greener or more sustainable hospital is one that helps to facilitate the healing process and that is something Montefiore is striving to achieve on a daily basis.
Building a Greener Future for our Communities
The most recent of these undertakings is the potential construction of green roofs at two of Montefiore’s Bronx campuses. Green roofs are typically created to help insulate buildings, control the release of rainwater into the surrounding sewer system and clean the surrounding air.
While these are two compelling factors, we would like to take things a step further by incorporating the concepts of natural healing, local flora and urban green spaces into their design. By doing so, we will be creating innovative spaces that exist to foster the health of our community.
Read the Montefiore case study here
About Montefiore Health System
Montefiore is a premier academic health system and the University Hospital for Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Combining nationally-recognized clinical excellence with a population health perspective that focuses on the comprehensive needs of the communities it serves, Montefiore delivers coordinated, compassionate, science-driven care where, when and how patients need it most. Montefiore consists of eight hospitals and an extended care facility with a total of 2,747 beds, a School of Nursing, and state-of-the-art primary and specialty care provided through a network of more than 150 locations across the region, including the largest school health program in the nation and a home health program. The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore is consistently named in U.S. News’ “America’s Best Children’s Hospitals.” Montefiore’s partnership with Einstein advances clinical and translational research to accelerate the pace at which new discoveries become the treatments and therapies that benefit patients. The health system derives its inspiration for excellence from its patients and community, and continues to be on the frontlines of developing innovative approaches to care. For more information please visit www.montefiore.org. Follow us on Twitter; like us on Facebook; view us on Youtube.
About Jeffrey Hogan:
Jeffrey Hogan is the Energy and Sustainability manager for all of the Montefiore properties. His background in sustainability began at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, PA where he studied environmental sciences and geology. He then specialized in sustainability at Ramapo College of New Jersey, where he earned a Master’s in Sustainability Studies. Today, Jeff is responsible for the sustainability and energy efforts at all of the Montefiore campuses and oversees all utility accounts. He works to raise awareness and educate people about healthy living, along with ways to improve the environment by reducing our carbon footprint.