There are a number of ways during the design process to explore making healthcare facilities more energy efficient. But when managing the environmental footprint of your facility, sometimes the furthest reach comes from thinking not only of the systems inside your walls but of the impact your facility has on the community in which it lies.

Stanford Hospital & Clinics and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital report that beginning this month, their employees will receive free passes to use Caltrain, a commuter rail service that runs along the San Francisco Peninsula.

Obviously, the passes support staffers making eco-conscious decisions as well as take some burden off of their transportation budgets. However, this decision also comes with clear benefits to the facilities and community, as well.

With a current project underway to upgrade utilities and infrastructure, as well as groundbreakings planned for both an expansion at Lucile Packard Children's and the new Stanford Hospital & Clinics slated for late 2012/early 2013, construction-related traffic as well as additional staff and patient traffic was an unavoidable outcome.

However, the passes alleviate some of that problem while at the same time promote a greener mode of transportation.

The passes, according to a press release, were part of an original entitlements agreement with the city of Palo Alto, California. This indicates yet another way facilities can work with their communities for a common goal—in this case, reducing traffic in an already congested area, protecting not only roadways but the environment of the community in general.

And, subsequently, I’d have to imagine this agreement also played a part in working better with the city and achieving project approval.

As our Editorial Advisory Board Member Kim Shinn said during the plenary session at the HEALTHCARE DESIGN Conference in Nashville in November 2011, “If you’re not being sustainable, you’re not being a good business person.”

In this case, a move toward sustainability comes with plenty of business benefits, as well.