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Poll: 90% of Hospitals Increasing Sustainability Investment

Image credit: Johnson & Johnson

A poll conducted among several hospital administrators at the recent CleanMed 2013 Conference found most hospitals are increasing sustainability investments and committing to greener healing environments.

Among the survey respondents, some 87 percent said their hospitals incorporate sustainability into both the decision-making process and hospital operations. When it comes to spending, 20 percent indicated their organization invested more than $1 million in sustainability initiatives in 2012, which includes the purchase of sustainable products.

The poll reflects sustainability investment in the health care sector is on the upswing — a total of 90 percent of those surveyed indicated that their hospital increased investment in sustainability in 2012 versus the previous year. Some 37 percent of hospital administrators cited reducing overall operational costs as a top priority.

Of respondents who selected operational costs as one of their top three sustainability priorities, 37 percent named energy usage as the main concern, followed by products and supplies (28 percent) and waste disposal (22 percent). Hospitals also said decreasing waste (33 percent) and creating a greener, healthier environment for patients (22 percent) were other priorities of their sustainability strategies.

The new poll mirrors the findings of a 2012 Johnson & Johnson white paper, The Growing Importance of More Sustainable Products in the Global Health Care Industry. In the study, more than half of hospitals cited green attributes as very important in their purchasing decisions and 40 percent expect their future request for proposals to include sustainability criteria for the products they purchase.

Johnson & Johnson has established a sustainability plan called Healthy Future 2015, which includes enterprise-wide goals to reduce environmental impacts. The initiative uses a process called Earthwards to help product development teams identify and address a product’s biggest environmental impacts, with a focus on lifecycle thinking.

“It’s encouraging to see leaders at this conference making an increased commitment to sustainability,” said Laura Wenger, R.N., and executive director of Practice Greenhealth. “Striking the balance beyond the typical bottom line to include addressing greener patient care is an investment that hospitals can’t afford not to do.”

Another factor that can affect the bottom line is climate change. While 80 percent of hospital administrators surveyed indicated their organization has not evaluated its risks related to climate change, that figure may change following the CleanMed conference, which has made climate change a central theme on the agenda.


Mike Hower is a writer, thinker, and strategic communicator most interested in the intersection of sustainable business and policy. Currently based in Washington, D.C., he is a graduate research fellow at George Washington University, where he is pursuing a masters… [Read more about Mike Hower]


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