Sustainable practices are being considered more often within healthcare due to the growing interest in them. As the interest builds, healthcare leaders are looking for a guide or benchmark for how to improve their sustainability efforts.
One way of gauging an organization’s efforts or commitment is through certification.
The Joint Commission recently introduced a Sustainable Healthcare Certification, which was created to form a framework for healthcare leadership and governance to better help set priorities with regards to sustainability efforts, according to its website. This certification is available for hospitals and critical access hospitals.
According to the website, Jonathan B. Perlin, president and CEO of The Joint Commission Enterprise says, “In healthcare, we are united in the mission toward doing good for all people. As an unintended consequence of our work, however, we are contributing disproportionately to climate change.”
Hospitals consume a great deal of energy because of their need to keep systems running around the clock. Because of this, hospitals are looking toward alternative and renewable measures for their main energy sources and to make overall operations more efficient. Still, these decisions may present some hurdles for facilities managers to overcome.
The major obstacle that needs to be overcome is the high initial investment. Switching to renewable energy requires swapping out a hospital’s existing infrastructure to one that will be compatible with the new power source. This will lead to costs quickly racking up for any renewable energy project. Additionally, even just making smaller scale changes, such as switching to heat pumps or combined heat and power (CHP), can be expensive too.
That is not to say these hurdles are insurmountable. There are programs or initiatives available for hospitals to take advantage of, such as the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and the 179D tax deduction, that can help ease the financial burdens for making the switch.
Even with that initial cost, there are still several benefits of making either choice, such as reduced energy costs, more efficient energy usage, smaller carbon footprints, stable energy and an overall lessened impact on the environment. Ultimately, it comes down to balancing the costs and the benefits for each individual hospital.
Sustainability, while an intangible concept itself, provides real and palpable effects for hospitals and other healthcare facilities. As the push for sustainable practices grows even more into mainstream consciousness, these hurdles will become less of a barrier to entry. Sustainability is becoming a standard for healthcare facilities to strive for now and into the future.
Jeff Wardon, Jr. is the assistant editor for the facilities market.