Tag Archives: sustainability

Nov 4, 2016

4 Reasons to Build a Healthier Hospital

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About the author: Iqbal Mian manages a portfolio of health care members and develops content and resources on energy conservation, quality and other topics. He spoke at the recent 3M Sustainability in Health Care Summit, an annual event that brings together thought leaders to share best practices and help attendees identify new ways to secure economic, social and environmental benefits from sustainability programs.

3M Sustainability in Health Care Summit

3M Sustainability in Health Care Summit

The Healthier Hospitals Initiative encourages hospitals to build a more sustainable business model to help reduce the environmental impacts of the health care industry.

Healthier Hospitals initiatives typically encompass:

  • Generating less waste.
  • Reducing the use of energy, and water and other natural resources.
  • Avoiding environmental harm from substances including chemicals.
  • Instituting practices such as sourcing sustainable food.

In addition to promoting health care sustainability, a Healthier Hospital yields other benefits for patients, clinicians and health care leadership.

Greater efficiency

The average hospital generates 29 pounds of waste per staffed bed per day1 contributing to a whopping total of 5.9 million tons of waste per year.1 Because waste has to go somewhere, reducing waste and ramping up recycling benefit not only the hospital, but the community the hospital serves. Recycling can even have a pay-off: Beaumont collected $866,000 in recycling rebates by diverting 13 million pounds of waste from landfills over a 5-year period.3

Responsible disposal can also contribute to community health by helping avoid impact on natural resources, for example, the introduction of pharmaceuticals into drinking water.2

Expense reduction

Hospitals use 2.5 times more energy per square foot than other commercial buildings, for an annual combined energy spend of $8.5 billion.Increasing efficiencies in areas like heating, lighting and water use yield expense savings and decrease a hospital’s environmental footprint.

Even obvious changes, such as swapping out light fixtures, can have a significant impact. By replacing light fixtures, Tenet was able to decrease energy consumption at one system hospital by 57%.5

Hospitals are also high water users. The average hospital uses 250,000–700,000 gallons per bed per year. Reducing water usage reduces utility costs, including the energy and wastewater treatment cost associated with water use. Targeted initiatives, like reducing laundry, are a good place to start. Through laundry efficiencies, Intermountain Healthcare was able to conserve 17 million gallons of water.6

Healthier conditions for patients and clinicians

Chemical exposure has been linked to a range of health problems, yet more chemicals are used in health care than in any other sector.7 Switching to safer chemicals, including green cleaning options, means less chemical exposure for both patients and health care workers.

Support for healthy behaviors

Other Healthier Hospital initiatives such as a sustainable food program contribute to health care sustainability. Sourcing locally and sustainability grown food, and changing the quality and quantity of meat served can contribute to healthier meals. And because diet is linked to numerous health conditions, serving healthier meals helps improve the health of patients — as well as health care workers who eat at the hospital.

Sustainable food also serves another purpose: antimicrobial stewardship. 80% of all antibiotics consumed in the U.S. are fed to livestock, a factor that’s contributed to antibiotic resistance. Sustainable options can help reverse that trend.8

Take the Sustainability in Hospitals webinar at 3M Health Care Academy to learn the basics of establishing a healthy hospital program.


Practice Greenhealth, Less Waste. Accessed August 31, 2016. https://practicegreenhealth.org/topics/less-waste

World Health Organization. Water Sanitation Health. Accessed August 31, 2016. http:// http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/publications/pharmaceuticals-in-drinking-water/en/

3 Beaumont. Sustainability Report. 2015.

4 Gerwig, Kathy. Greening Health Care: How Hospitals Can Heal the Planet. Oxford University Press, August 2014.

5 Tenet. Sustainability Report. 2014.

6 Intermountain Healthcare. Sustainability Report. 2014.

7 Healthier Hospitals Initiative. Safer Chemicals. Accessed August 31, 2016. http://healthierhospitals.org/hhi-challenges/safer-chemicals.

8 Healthier Hospitals Initiative. Healthier Food. Accessed August 31, 2016. http://healthierhospitals.org/hhi-challenges/healthier-food.

Jul 15, 2016

Sustainability in Healthcare: Cleaner Environment, Stronger Community

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Gundersen Health System has set the standard for health care sustainability with its Envision® environmental program. A 2015 top 50 American Hospital, as recognized by Healthgrades, Gundersen has developed a program model that demonstrates how to develop a portfolio of sustainability projects to help lower costs while improving your local community health. From an innovative recycling and waste management system, to a robust energy conservation program, to innovative partnerships for renewable energy projects, Gundersen has developed a model for organizations nationwide.

3M met with Mark Platt to learn more about Gundersen Health and its environmental strategy:

Q: Hi, Mark. Please tell us about your position and Gundersen Health System.

A: My position within the organization is Senior Vice President of Business Services. Gundersen Health System is a 125-year old integrated health care delivery system with its main campus located in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Gundersen is the largest employer in La Crosse – and it’s a significant part of our community. Gundersen also has four regional hospitals across northeast Iowa, southeast Minnesota and west central Wisconsin with 7,000 employees.

Q: How did Gundersen Health become interested in sustainability?

A: As a not-for-profit health care system, Gundersen’s mission has long been to improve the health and well being of our community – that’s what we work on every day. Our sustainability program naturally grew from that mission.

In 2008, we set a goal to be energy independent in 2014. We wanted to reduce pollution, improve the environment in our community and lower health care costs. And, we believed that we could do all three of those things.

Q: How did you get started? What steps did you take to reach your goal?

A: We conducted an energy audit in 2008 to review our consumption and the byproducts of that consumption. From there, we started with conservation on the energy side. We also evaluated opportunities to produce power with renewable energy resources because no matter how much effort is put towards conservation, an organization simply cannot reduce itself to zero.

One of our first early wins was a landfill conversion process at one of our largest clinics, in Onalaska, WI. We also have two wind sites, each with a pair of turbines in them. And, we have two dietary digesters that convert the byproducts of cows (manure) through a biological process to extract the methane into a generator to produce power.

As a result of these successful renewable energy and conservation efforts, Gundersen achieved its first day of energy independence in October 2014. Today, we are 54% less energy-intensive as we were in 2008, meaning that we use 54% less energy per square foot than we did then.

Q: You mentioned energy independence. What does that mean, exactly?

A: To us, energy independence means that we produce more power from renewable energy resources than we consume. With most of our renewable energy projects taking place off-campus – at nearby wind sites, for example – they’re still located within our region. We can benefit the local environment and reduce pollution while still reaping the economic benefits of these projects.

Sustainability in Healthcare: wind turbine farm

Gundersen Health System and Organic Valley collaborated on a two-turbine wind farm in Cashton, WI, that generates enough energy to power 1,000 homes each year.

Q: On that note, what resources were applied to make this happen? What are the numbers saying now?

A: In round numbers, our energy program is just under $40 million – and that investment is returning to us closer to $5 million per year. When you invest in your own energy infrastructure, you get a return on your investment, plus the added benefits of reducing pollution and improving local health.

Q: That sounds like a worthwhile investment. What advice would you give to other organizations – big or small – that may be considering a sustainability program to improve their energy situation?

I think that health care is uniquely positioned to make a difference and lead in the area of sustainability. If our mission really is about the health and well being of our community, then we can make a huge difference by deciding to be more responsible about how we use our energy and how we treat our local economy and environment. If you can actually lower energy and health care costs while you’re improving the health of your community, it’s a pretty big deal.

It seems like a no-brainer.

For us, it is a no-brainer. And, if you’re going to make the choices we made eight years today, the technology and the opportunities are much greater.

Q: That makes sense. So, how might an organization pursue a similar environmental strategy?

A: Conservation has especially huge opportunities for health care, and it’s a great place for organizations to start. In our first year committed to conservation efforts, we invested $2 million. Every year since the initial investment, we have recovered $1.2 million in savings. Investing in conservation has great financial benefits.

We also now send engineers across the country to help organizations better understand our mission, process and values. We help to incorporate environmental programs and sustainable health care products and processes to fit their goals.

Q: That’s great. What’s next for Gundersen?

A: We’re currently evaluating solar energy projects in our area, and we’re looking to do more on-site work with our waste management program. We’ve received the most press about energy, but waste management is another huge opportunity for healthcare. We’re working on a lot of things!

Q: That’s good to hear! You seem very passionate about the work. Do you have any closing statements or key ‘takeaway messages?’

A: We really do believe that health care is in the perfect position to lead on this issue. We can make a significant difference and be a catalyst for change in the health care landscape.

Sustainability in Healthcare

Left: Solar panels on the roof of Gundersen’s underground parking ramp produce electricity to help power the structure. Right: Solar panels on Gundersen’s Onalaska Renal Dialysis Center are part of a solar thermal water heating system that helps to extend the life of the hot water heater equipment, reduce energy consumption and support lowering health care costs.

Sustainability at 3M empowers individuals and communities throughout the world to address global challenges and to improve every life. Building on our long-standing leadership in environmental stewardship, 3M is privileged to feature like-minded leaders that exhibit success across a range of sustainability efforts. Learn about our Corporate Sustainability program and Global Environmental Goals, and discover ways to make a difference in your community with more Sustainability Stories.

May 13, 2016

Redefining Healthcare Sustainability at CleanMed 2016

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Redefining Healthcare Sustainability at CleanMed 2016

At 3M, we are committed to improving our business, our planet, and every life. That’s one reason health care professionals rely on us to provide products they can depend on; products that will help improve lives in a rapidly changing environment.

For us, improving lives also means developing environmentally friendly health care products without sacrificing product quality or performance. On May 17-19, 3M will be in booth 201 at the CleanMed 2016 conference in Dallas, Texas to share our dedication to sustainability with other green-leaders in the health care industry.

Presented by Practice Greenhealth and Health Care Without Harm, this year’s event will be CleanMed’s 17th conference organized to showcase sustainable health care products in use within the health care industry. In 2015, 3M was honored with the Practice Greenhealth “Champion for Change” award for expanding sustainable practices.

Below are some examples of 3M Health Care sustainability products that we’ll be taking with us to CleanMed 2016, which aim to benefit both patients and the environment:

3M innovations reduce waste

Specific Packaging is required to protect medical materials and, in some cases, to keep a product sterile. This packaging is important, but can also result in a lot of waste and increased health care costs. 3M™ Tegaderm™ Dressings are now packed using an innovative nested design that reduces pouch material by 30% compared to a rectangular pouch.

3M innovations increase antibiotic stewardship

3M™ Skin and Nasal Antiseptic helps reduce the risk of surgical site infections when part of a comprehensive preoperative protocol.1-5 3M™ Skin and Nasal Antiseptic has not been shown to lead to resistance, supporting your antibiotic stewardship efforts.6

3M innovations conserve water

3M offers a wide variety of Green Seal certified cleaning chemicals that help reduce the amount of water needed, while also improving indoor air quality. Portable and reusable dispensers reduce environmental impact, and easy mixing minimizes chemical waste.

The 3M™ Easy Scrub Flat Mop is a solution for cleaning floors that reduces water and chemical waste by 80%, and cuts cleaning time in half when compared to a traditional mop and a bucket.

3M™ Avagard™ (Chlorhexidine Gluconate 1% Solution and Ethyl Alcohol 61% w/w) Surgical and Healthcare Personnel Hand Antiseptic with Moisturizers is the first and only FDA NDA-approved waterless, brushless surgical hand antiseptic that uses alcohol for rapid kill and Chlorohexidine Gluconate for persistent, cumulative activity, which is preferred by AORN. The formulation eliminates the need for water, helping hospitals further avoid waste.

3M innovations are made with safer chemicals

Made without natural rubber latex or phthalate plasticizers, 3M™ Littmann® Stethoscopes have reliable and clear acoustic performance and resilient next-generation tubing that retains its shape and flexibility even after folding tightly into a pocket. The new tubing provides longer stethoscope life due to improved resistance to skin oils and alcohol.

3M’s hand hygiene line contains foam and gel products that have earned the USDA biobased product certification, and a soap that is made without triclosan.

3M innovations conserve energy and resources

Every dollar spent on utilities is a dollar not spent on patient care. 3M™ Thinsulate™ Climate Control Window Film enhances existing window insulation by keeping the warmth in during the winter and the cool, conditioned air in during the summer. The 3M™ Climate Control Window Film solution helps facilities reduce their energy consumption, while creating a safe and pleasant environment for patients.

The majority of our 3M™ Steri-Drape™ Fabric Surgical Drapes are now made with plant-based renewable resources and reduce the environmental impact of medical disposables, while maintaining the same standard our customers expect from us:  strikethrough-resistant barrier, strength, adhesion, drapability and low linting, plus improved absorption and ease of application. What’s new:

  • 18% fewer fossil fuel resources used throughout the product life cycle7
  • 10% less CO2 emitted during the product life cycle7
  • 62% of entire fabric made from renewable plant-based material8
  • Nonwoven layer contains 95% renewable plant-based material8,9  

We invite you to stop by booth 201 at the conference to learn about the exciting breakthroughs 3M is making in patient safety and environmental accountability. See a preview of 3M’s sustainable solutions.



1. Phillips M., et al. Preventing Surgical Site Infections: A Randomized, Open-Label Trial of Nasal Mupirocin Ointment and Nasal Povidone-Iodine Solution. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 2014;35(7):826-32

2. Bebko S., et al. Effect of a Preoperative Decontamination Protocol on Surgical Site Infections in Patients Undergoing Elective Orthopedic Surgery with Hardware Implantation. JAMA Surg, Published online March 04, 2015. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2014.3480

3. Brown L., et al. (2014, June) The Effects of Universal Intranasal Povidone Iodine Antisepsis on Total Joint Replacement Surgical Site Infections. Poster present at the APIC National Conference, Anaheim, CA

4. Waibel M., (2013, June) Revisiting Process Improvement for Total Joint Arthrophlasty Surgical Site Infections. Poster presented at the APIC National Conference, Ft Lauderdale, FL.

5. Hogenmiller J., et al. (2011, June) Preventing Orthopedic Total Joint Replacement Surgical Site Infections through a Comprehensive Best Practice Bundle/Checklist.Poster presented at the APIC National Conference, Baltimore MD.

6. 3M Study 05-011322 *The clinical significance of in vitro data is unknown

7. Life Cycle Assessment per ISO 14040 and ISO 14044 and validated by PE INTERNATIONAL

8. Tested per ASTM D6866 byBeta Analytic Inc.

9. Certification by Vinçotte

Jun 30, 2015

Healthcare facilities are becoming sustainability champions!

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It was clear to me at the CleanMed conference that many hospitals and healthcare facilities are greatly interested in ways to reduce water, waste and energy while maintaining or improving safety. At the conference, I had the opportunity to meet with building and facility managers, environmental services personnel, sustainability professionals, and clinicians who are all interested in ways to become healthcare sustainability champions. This year, 3M Health Care won the Practice Greenhealth “Champion for Change” award for successfully helping our customers become more sustainable and for improving our own environmental footprint.

Practice Greenhealth Champion for Change Award

Here we are accepting the award

Is your hospital just beginning its sustainability journey? If so, you may want to consider joining Practice Greenhealth, a non-profit aimed at helping hospitals reduce their environmental footprint. They have many tools that can help your facility get started.

Setting sustainability goals and measuring success

I am excited to share with you the new 3M Sustainability Report – and I am happy to say that this year we continue to increase the transparency of our reporting. This report gives in-depth information about the progress we have made towards our 2015 goals. Here are a few quick bullets to whet your appetite:

  • In 2014 alone, 15 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent emissions were avoided for our customers through use of 3M product platforms.
  • From 2010-2015, we increased on-site reuse and recycling by nearly 40% and in 2014, we recycled 25% of our total water used.
  • Between 2002 and 2014, we voluntarily achieved a 64% absolute reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).

We have been setting global environmental goals since 1990, and this year we are announcing our new targets for 2025. These new goals are defining the ways we will work towards our Every Life ambition for the next 10 years. Here are some of the new goals:

  • Increase renewable energy to 25% of total electricity use.
  • Provide training to 5 million people globally on worker and patient safety. The new 3M℠ Health Care Academy is one way we are educating healthcare professionals.
  • Help our customers reduce their GHGs by 250 million tons of CO2 equivalent emissions through use of 3M solutions.
  • Achieve “zero landfill” status at more than 30% of manufacturing sites

I am confident that all 90,000 sustainability team members (that’s every employee) will help in some way to make these goals our next reality. Team members are already starting projects. Here are two examples of completed projects that allowed us be more eco-efficient:

3M™ Comply™ Bowie-Dick Test Packs

3M™ Comply™ Bowie-Dick Test Packs are designed to test air removal efficiency of 132-134°C (270-273°F) dynamic-air-removal steam sterilizers. We were able to reduce about 500,000 lbs. per year of paper waste by switching to a different weight of the paperboard sheets. This change helps 3M waste, but it also means our customers have less to dispose of too. In fact, if paper recycling is available to your hospital, the paper sheets in the test pack can be recycled when you are done with the test.

3M™ Ioban™ 2 Anti-microbial Incise Drape

3M™ Ioban™ 2 Anti-microbial Incise Drape contains an iodophor impregnated adhesive. The product is used to provide a sterile operative surface at the onset of surgery, immobilizing bacteria on skin and providing continuous broad spectrum antimicrobial activity to help reduce the risk of surgical site contamination.

The Ioban packaging was redesigned by changing the primary box from a corrugated material to a lightweight paperboard material. The lighter weight paperboard saves approximately 220,000 lbs. of packaging waste for our customers. (Don’t worry—every packaging change is carefully tested in our sophisticated package engineering lab to ensure we are protecting the product while we are preserving the planet!)

I can’t wait to see the new ways 3M can apply science to improve lives around the world.

Take the Sustainability in Hospitals CE Course.


Apr 20, 2015

Healthcare Sustainability

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The 3M brand ignites passion, inspiration, and trust around the world. For over a century, 3M has been committed to creating solutions to be more efficient and effective. Sustainability isn’t new to us. Since 1975, our Pollution Prevention Pays (3P) program has prevented the generation of nearly 4 billion pounds of pollutants through the completion of 11,800 projects across the company.

Sustainability is a major initiative at 3M and within 3M’s Health Care Business Group. Did you know that US hospitals generate 5.9 MM tons (more than 11 billion pounds) of waste each year, and they use 2.5X more energy/ft2 than other commercial buildings? As the Healthcare Sustainability Director for 3M I look at sustainability as balancing social, environmental, and economic factors while addressing healthcare facility challenges.

For 3M Infection Prevention Solutions, our primary purpose is to help keep patients and healthcare professionals safe. We do this with some extremely smart scientists and clinical experts. They research and design new technologies to improve products,  perform training, review clinical evidence, write studies, and give support to customers about best practices. Our experts work with passion to be sure that everything we do, is grounded in science to help our customers do their job with confidence.

To recognize Earth Day, I wanted to share a few examples that highlight the great work we all do.

3M™ Avagard™ Hand Hygiene

Hand hygiene is one of the most critical pieces in any heathcare facility. In 2001 we designed a new solution – 3M™ Avagard™ (Chlorhexidine Gluconate 1% Solution and Ethyl Alcohol 61% w/w) Surgical and Healthcare Personnel Hand Antiseptic with Moisturizers. This solution is the first waterless, brushless surgical scrub that helps to reduce the amount of water used, saving water while being effective. Last year, two 3M™ Avagard™ hand antiseptics received USDA BioBased certification. This verifies that the product’s amount of renewable biobased ingredients meets or exceeds levels set by USDA.

3M Surgical Respirator Donations

Together, with Project HOPE, MAP International and Direct Relief International, 3M responded to the Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa this past year by donating nearly 1 million respirators to help doctors and aid workers.

3M™ Comply™ Steam Lead Free Indicator Tapes for Sterilization Exposure Monitoring

Products containing lead require special hazardous waste disposal and result in added costs to a facility. Standardizing on lead-free products in the healthcare setting, such as Comply Lead Free Steam Indicator Tapes, makes good sense – by helping to simplify operations, avoid the risk of penalties for non-compliance, and enhancing a facility or health system’s reputation for good environmental stewardship. Since the introduction of this product line in 2011, we have helped hospitals reduce their hazardous waste.

3M™ Ranger™ Patient Warming System

3M™ Ranger™ blood and fluid warming systems help keep surgical patients warm. Beginning in 2014 all of the fluid warming cassettes are no longer made with Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP).  New research and science from our experts found an effective replacement.

This year, 3M was honored to be named by Ethisphere as one of the world’s most ethical companies. The Ethisphere World’s Most Ethical Companies list is a distinction that honors superior achievements in transparency, integrity, ethics and compliance. We have also been listed on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for the past 15 consecutive years. To me, this shows that the executive leaders at 3M want to do the right thing for our current customers, future customers, and the communities we operate in.

If you are interested in sustainability and social giving at 3M, check out the sustainability report. Or, for more information about donations and support go to 3M Gives.