Keeping 'green' a top priority

October 30, 2009
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Metro Health Hospital is a local leader in sustainability. Toward the end of 2008, the new facility received LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council — the first hospital in the state to receive the certification.

Metro Health also has created a roughly $30,000 annual savings by implementing environmentally friendly programs such as recycling. John Ebers, sustainability officer for Metro Health, oversees all of its sustainable programs; he broke them down into three categories.

“The three major areas I focus on are energy, waste and water,” he said.

That means figuring out ways to be more efficient with energy consumption, he said, and when it comes to waste, how to get away from using landfills and put a greater emphasis on recycling. In terms of water, it means finding ways to become more efficient with it and reduce its consumption.

“To get those things done, I work with pretty much every single department in the hospital, from purchasing new technology to figuring out ways to implement the technology or process.”

Ebers has been with Metro Health almost seven years. When he joined the organization, the concept of a sustainability officer was relatively new, but in his time at Metro, Ebers said he has seen such roles on the increase.

“I’ve seen more positions, specifically in health care, come about,” he said.

“They call it different things at different places,” he added, but said there are universal sustainability concepts that apply to any organization.

“I would recommend figuring out what you’re actually using. Once you know that, you can start digging into what the opportunities are to reduce,” he said. “Looking at waste, water and energy and figuring out ways to reduce, you have to know where you were at. Once you know where you’re at, you can put together a plan.”

Benefits of using sustainable practices show up in other ways besides the bottom line. Ebers said it has been an encouraging force for employees, as well.

“It’s not a tangible thing in terms of the benefit, but I think I can speak for our employees and people I interact with on a day-to-day basis. They want to work for a company that is evaluating its ecological footprint,” he said.

“The fact that we’re working on it and that I have a job here lets people know that we’re making a concerted effort to figure out ways to be more mindful of our resources.”

Ebers said Metro Health’s sustainability efforts also have been increasingly noticed in the community.

“People will often say, ‘It’s really cool what Metro’s doing.’ It sounds really simplistic, but the fact that somebody recognizes that a hospital is environmentally conscious — I don’t know what that’s worth, but it says something,” he said.

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