In 2007, researchers found that the United States Healthcare System was responsible for 8% of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions. The intention of the study was to point out the disproportionate levels of waste produced by the industry in the hope that change would follow. The researchers, who compiled their material from a series of other studies, pointed hopefully to the changes being pursued by the United Kingdom’s National Health Service. Unfortunately, recent numbers indicate that they did not realize their hopes, at least not in the United States. Why is the pursuit of an energy-efficient medical office so difficult?
A recent article, published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, reflects that the United States Health Industry’s greenhouse gas emissions have actually increased from 8% to 10%. It appears to be a well-established western phenomenon, as Dr. Jodi Sherman points out. The health care industries of the United States, Australia, England, and Canada collectively produce 748 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually. To put that in perspective, there are only six entire nations in the world that produce more annually.
Making Your Mark
Given that 9 million premature deaths in 2015 were positively linked to pollution, an energy-efficient medical practice has a three-fold purpose in that it improves the general health of your patients as well as the rest of the world while also saving you money. In fact, Healthcare Design Magazine reports that the U.S. healthcare industry spends more than $8 billion on energy, and that was in 2013. Since then, energy costs have only increased. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that every dollar saved on energy is equivalent to a $10 increase in revenue for your medical practice.
Steps to Sustainability
With all of the equipment required to run a medical practice, reducing your carbon footprint can seem challenging at first. However, you can start with the small changes prescribed to single-family households and build from there.
- Replace your light bulbs. The first step toward a more energy-efficient medical practice starts with the lights that are continuously on. If you aren’t already using Energy Star approved bulbs in your waiting room and office area, then it’s an easy switch. Energy Star certified light bulbs use up to 90% less energy than standard bulbs and last a minimum of 15 times longer. Overall, each individual bulb will save you approximately $55 over its lifetime. As an added bonus, they also produce less heat, slightly reducing your air conditioning bill as well.
- Pick up a few power strips. By putting power strips throughout your practice, you can make it easy to turn off electronic equipment while not in use. The Department of Energy states that they help to reduce “phantom loads,” effectively saving you about $100 per year per power strip.
- Schedule a maintenance check on your heating and cooling systems. The Department of Energy also suggests having your heater and air-conditioner professionally maintained. By maintaining the air filters and checking the efficiency of your equipment once a year, you’ll maximize your temperature control capabilities while minimizing your budget by reducing your costs by up to 15%.
- To make a larger dent, gradually phase out older equipment in favor of more efficient models. This process can happen naturally over the years. It slowly decreases your practice’s impact on the environment and saving you even more money.
Aiming for Ethical Growth
As your practice grows, aim for well-insulated, updated properties for your new practice. Boulevard Medical Properties can help you locate and retrofit a new medical practice property with sustainability in mind. We see our eco-friendly construction and products as a key part of a positive patient experience. We want to help your practice to build an ethical, green reputation.