June 22, 2007

Group lauds VUMC environmental efforts

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VUH CEO Larry Goldberg speaks at the VMG annual meeting. (photo by Susan Urmy)

Group lauds VUMC environmental efforts

Vanderbilt University Medical Center was recently recognized by Hospitals for a Healthy Environment (H2E) for its environmental programs and pollution prevention efforts.

Bob Wheaton, director of Vanderbilt Environmental Health and Safety (VEHS), and Susan Johnson, VEHS assistant director and VUMC safety officer, recently traveled to the Environmental Excellence Summit in Minneapolis to accept this recognition on behalf of VUMC.

“Vanderbilt University Medical Center has made a crucial connection between preventing pollution and protecting patient and community health,” said Laura Brannan, executive director of H2E. “This facility is on the leading edge of a revolution in making health care safer and healthier for patients, staff, the community and the environment.”

H2E is an independent, not-for-profit organization founded by the American Hospital Association, the Environmental Protection Agency, Health Care without Harm and the American Nurses Association. It is dedicated to improving environmental consciousness in health care.

VUMC received the award because of its energy conservation, pollution prevention and recycling programs.

“In gathering the information for this award, I was surprised and very pleased to find how much work has been done at VUMC in these areas,” said Johnson, who filled out the award application.

VUMC has implemented several energy efficiency and conservation programs. Under the leadership of Plant Services Director Ken Browning and his staff, VUMC has begun many energy saving initiatives, such as the installation of more efficient electrical lighting, reduction of steam usage via improved maintenance procedures and the installation of more energy-friendly heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems in order to reduce overall energy and water usage.

Other efforts include the VUMC Campaign for Awareness, Recycling and Environmental Sustainability (CARES), a medical student-led recycling program started last August. Stationed in Light Hall, the program recycled almost 44,000 pounds of material in just four months and will soon be expanded to include other areas of VUMC.

Such environmentally responsible programs have cut down on operating expenses, reduced the amount of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere and regulated the amount of waste production at VUMC.

“We believe that our collective effort to reduce pollution and improve our environmental profile is an essential part of our education, research and patient care missions,” said Wheaton. “Everyone at VUMC shares equally in this recognition and should feel proud of this accomplishment.”