Sustainable practices help organization earn national recognition
At the University of Vermont Medical Center, sustainability isn’t a separate process. It’s simply the way we approach what we do.
“The fact that sustainability is part of our everyday work is one of the reasons we are successful,” says Dawn LeBaron, vice president of Hospital Services and chair of the Medical Center’s Sustainability Council.
From the Nutrition Services team serving locally grown veggies to clinical staff performing procedures with reprocessed medical devices, sustainability appears in many aspects of our operations.
By weaving environmental consciousness into our patient- and family-centered mission of care, we’ve established ourselves as a national leader in health care sustainability. We have a long history of national recognition. We most recently earned our third consecutive Top 25 Environmental Excellence Award from Practice Greenhealth, as well as a Sustainability Excellence Award from Vizient Inc.
Commitment to climate
But our work is far from complete.
In June, the UVM Medical Center joined the Vermont Climate Pledge Coalition, which aims to uphold greenhouse gas emission reduction targets established by the Paris Climate Agreement. This means achieving a 26 percent reduction in Vermont’s greenhouse gases (from their 2005 level) by 2025.
“We’re committed to working toward climate change mitigation solutions,” says LeBaron, who also participates in the national Health Care Climate Council. “I am grateful for the actions big and small that employees take to reduce our carbon footprint.”
Last spring, we partnered with Casella, our waste hauler, to learn how to further reduce waste and increase recycling. Casella analyzed waste streams and met with key Medical Center departments to develop a plan for improving waste practices. This project comes on the heels of a successful blue wrap recycling partnership with Casella, which has helped us divert tons (literally) of waste from entering the landfill.
“A big part of our sustainability success,” says LeBaron, “comes from the collaborative relationships we’ve built with external partners like Casella.”
Engineering energy savings
Our Facilities team continues to work to make UVM Medical Center operate as efficiently as possible while supporting a comfortable healing environment.
“Finding ways to save energy while accommodating technology upgrades to improve patient service is one of the things I enjoy most about my job,” says Heather Kendrew, manager of Facilities Operations.
Last year we saved over 790,868 kilowatt hours – enough energy to power 168 Burlington homes for a year – through projects such as roof replacements, LED lighting installations and HVAC upgrades.
“The ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”
- The United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development