UHS recognizes its responsibility to implement environmentally sustainable practices and is committed to complying with applicable legal and regulatory environmental standards to protect patients, visitors, staff and communities. Our environmental stewardship includes, but is not limited to, following best practices when managing our energy usage, construction and design of new build and/or major renovations and disposing of waste.
Optimizing Energy Efficiencies
- Our Centralized Utility Billing Management System (UBM) monitors energy usage across our U.S. operations. By streamlining data collection and reporting, we can identify and act on inefficiencies faster and more easily. The platform alerts us to any significant deviation from average energy costs.
- Our Acute Care facilities monitor the efficiencies of their heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) component operations through use of an automatic fault detection and diagnostics platform. Reports flag deviations from optimal operations, especially for those facilities equipped with Retro-Commissioning (RCx) and Monitoring- Based Commissioning (MBCx).
- In 2022, UHS earmarked an additional $1.18 million to retrofit California-area hospitals with higher-efficiency, LED lighting certified by ENERGY STAR® or DesignLights Consortium. While these upgrades were not yet completed at year’s end, the project’s projected annual savings amount to nearly $290,000 and 2.2 million kWh or 950 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent.
Environmental Opportunities for Green Building
- Despite the challenges of pandemic-related materials availability issues, UHS continues to set high environmental standards. Our construction and design of new builds or major renovations must comply with federal, state and local energy efficiency standards and energy codes. Additionally, we require that the project’s ENERGY STAR® Score Rating meets or exceeds 90.
- Lastly, any new construction or major renovation project $20 million or higher will be assessed for Green Building Initiatives’ Green Globes® or U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certification.
Investing in Clean Environments
- Coordinated efforts across multiple departments, including Environmental Services and Supply Chain, ensure our work environments, products and services are safe and sustainable for staff, patients and visitors. Despite post-pandemic disruptions to manufacturing and transportation, the teams’ focus on providing healthier environments for all stakeholders remained steadfast.
- Use of environmentally-friendly chemicals to maintain safe and clean environments for employees and visitors. In 2022, we expanded the use of Green Seal certified products to include additional products, such as floor pads and dusting sheets.
Responsible Waste And Pollution Management
- While multiple initiatives have long been in place to support the responsible disposal of pollution and waste, in 2022, we began framing a comprehensive waste management and recycling program.
- In the meantime, our facilities continued to participate in trainings and initiatives focused on the proper disposal of waste that resulted in effective reductions of CO2 emissions and/or increased in recycled/reused materials. In 2022, these included:
- Facilities conducted annual waste training to support our initiative for disposing waste responsibly. Data on waste streams were collected monthly and reported through the individual hospital’s Environment of Care committees to identify opportunities to reduce non-recycled material and increase recycled material. In 2022, this initiative documented 12.5 million pounds of recycled material.
- Participation in our reusable sharps container program mitigated more than 1.3 million pounds of greenhouse gases (compared to single-use containers). This is equivalent to CO2 emissions from 69,307 gallons of gasoline consumed and the preservation of 740 acres of forest.
A new Hazardous Materials and Waste Program playbook was developed by the Environmental Risk and Emergency Management (EM) team to provide educational and programmatic assistance for the Hazardous Materials Management Program at the facility level.
Conservation of Natural Resources
- The System Water Management Team (WMT) includes Facilities Operations, Infection Prevention, Environmental Services and Risk Management and oversees all aspects of potable and utility water processes. Each hospital site, as well as the identified outpatient clinics, have a site WMT that manages its water systems and evaluates the necessary hazard control and validation data to ensure the systems are maintained at the highest degree of safety.
- We maintain supporting documents that are compliant with a HACCP-based Water Management Program (WMP), which meets the requirements of ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 188-2021 (Legionellosis: Risk Management Practices for Building Water Systems).
- As part of that same standard, UHS has designed and implemented a WMP to manage the environmental aspects of water streams (e.g., domestic/potable water systems, cooling tower systems, outdoor decorative water features) for the safety of patients, visitors and employees.
Culinary and Nutrition
In 2022, we continued our Food as Healing Fuel approach, despite the challenges presented by an unstable and inflationary marketplace.
- Whenever possible, the team used Locked Order Guides to secure products with the best availability and value, but also those from sustainable sources.
- As post-pandemic census and visitor counts rose, so did meal production and thus our potential for recycling efforts. A survey of 68 of our Acute Care and Behavioral Health facilities found eight different categories of items are being recycled. Used fryer oil was recycled most often (75% of facilities surveyed), followed by cardboard (62%).
- Our recycling initiatives in 2022 also included promoting the use of reusable items such as melamine plates, reusable but safe rubberized plastic utensils and even reusable take-out containers that can last over a year. In 2023, we expect the Behavioral Health Division’s usage of these reusable items to increase by 20%.
- In 2022, the culinary and dietary experts created numerous plant-centric recipes and introduced new food choices, such as gluten-free vegan menu items, to its patient and café menus. We expect to develop this initiative further to meet the increasing demand for animal-based food alternatives, but also help lower gas emissions and environmental contamination and help patients and visitors avoid high saturated fats.
Environmental Friendly Awards/Certifications
ENERGY STAR Certification
UHS made significant progress in its pursuit of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ENERGY STAR® certifications. As of February 2023, 15 UHS Acute Care facilities had earned this designation, up from two in 2021. ENERGY STAR® certified buildings and plants are verified to perform in the top 25% of buildings nationwide, based on weather-normalized source energy use that considers the occupancy, hours of operation and other key metrics.
AORN GO CLEAR Award
Manatee Memorial Hospital and Northwest Texas Healthcare System earned the AORN GO Clear Award — Gold.™ AORN recognizes operating rooms that present a smoke-free environment for staff and patient safety. The goal is to have all UHS Operating Rooms achieve this award by the end of 2024.
Gluten-free Safe Spot
Since 2021, 12 of our Acute Care facilities have attained Gluten Free Food Service (GFFS) certification by the Gluten Intolerance Group. This certification can only be obtained if all menu items are produced in a food production area free from cross-contact with menu items containing gluten.