It’s no secret that healthcare as an industry is one of the worst offenders when it comes to energy consumption. And a new organization is taking that statement a few steps further, adding on the enormous use of water, cleaning products, chemicals, and food.

With missions that don't exactly correspond with this scenario, facilities and healthcare systems across the country have already come to a crossroads in answering a question posed by the new Healthier Hospitals Initiative (HHI): “If their mission is to heal and promote health, shouldn’t reducing their environmental impact be part of their work?”

The group launched April 3 as an effort that unites more than 500 hospitals across the country in a partnership coordinated by Practice Greenhealth, Health Care Without Harm, and The Center for Health Design.

The crux of the effort is to urge hospitals to commit to a three-year initiative that focuses on six core challenges:

  • Engage in leadership on environmental health and sustainability;
  • Serve healthier foods and beverages;
  • Reduce energy use;
  • Reduce waste and recycle;
  • Use safer chemicals; and
  • Purchase environmentally preferable products.

And even those not participating in the program may stand to benefit from its results down the road. HHI plans to gather data and metrics from those facilities taking part to demonstrate the impact these measures have—both on the patient, staff, and community populations, and on reducing expenses.

HHI’s sponsoring health systems include founding members Advocate Health Care, Bon Secours Health System, Dignity Health (formerly Catholic Healthcare West), Hospital Corporation of America, Inova Health System, Kaiser Permanente, MedStar Health, and Partners HealthCare; as well as Catholic Health Initiatives, Tenet Health Systems, Vanguard Health Systems.

For more information on the group, check out “HHI: Leading Communities to a Healthier Future” from sister magazine HEALTHCARE DESIGN.