What are Green Hospitals? And how can hospitals be made more sustainable in general? If you're asking yourself these very questions, you've absolutely come to the right place! Whether the climate change or the air pollution - the environmental problems of our own actions have a negative impact on our health. At the same time, however, these are also accelerated by activities in hospitals. After all, according to the international NGO "Health Care Without Harm," the healthcare sector is responsible for 4.4 percent of global CO2 emissions.₁
In this article, I want to show you what "green hospitals" are and how they contribute to sustainability in the healthcare industry. Let's go!
In advance you will find here a short Overview about the contribution:
The organization Health Care Without Harm (HCWH for short) defines the term as a green and healthy hospital, which promotes the health of the population by steadily reducing its environmental footprint and eliminating any negative impact on the population's disease suffering. In doing so, it pursues the vision that healthcare mobilizes its ethical, economic and political influence to create an ecologically sustainable, just and healthy world.₂
The main aim is to identify links between the environment and health and to derive preventive and target-oriented measures with the help of environmentally friendly business management. By acting sustainably, green hospitals should ultimately function in such a way that they can Protect the environment and save lives at the same time.
With its aforementioned global CO2 emissions, the healthcare sector even surpasses air traffic and shipping in each case. The potential for climate protection is correspondingly large. Another valuable fact is the high water consumption per patient. For example, between 300 and 600 liters of water are required for each bed in German hospitals.₃ The potential for climate protection is also high. Save water can therefore be exploited. However, the ecological goals of the "Green Hospitals" must be considered in much greater detail.
The HCWH project Global Green and Healthy Hospitals has developed a comprehensive, holistic and global framework in which the areas of leadership, chemicals, waste, energy, water, food, transportation, pharmaceuticals, buildings and purchasing are aligned to facilitate sustainable action in terms of water consumption, waste management and energy budgeting.₄
The exact targets are based primarily on the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations₅:
- Promote health and well-being
- Clean water and sanitation
- Affordable and clean energy
- Decent work and economic growth
- Industry, innovation and infrastructure
- Sustainable cities and communities
- Responsible consumption and production
- Climate protection measures
In order to make hospitals more sustainable, there are measures derived from the objectives that are already being implemented in many places, such as a comprehensive Green Hospital Design Study shows.₆ The measures affected:
- Energy efficiency (e.g. ventilation, triple glazing, climate managers and insulation materials).
- Interior (e.g. safety and atmosphere)
- Efficient water use (e.g., water-efficient equipment and rainwater storage).
- Sustainable terrain planning (e.g. green roofs and green rest areas).
- Materials and resources (e.g. pollutant-free, ecological products)
- Innovation (e.g. flowing workflows and frameless sanitary objects).
- Other areas (e.g. waste reduction and plant-based nutrition).
Green Hospital Plus Initiative in Bavaria
In Bavaria, the Green Hospital Plus initiative was launched, which provides an even more detailed Catalog of measures for the pillars "Energy, Environment and People" has published.₇
The Energy efficiency is to be improved above all by replacing outdated heating systems with modern energy-saving systems, thermal insulation glazing and facade optimization. The entire hospital will also be powered exclusively by electricity from renewable sources.
The promotion of the Environmental protection for example, wastewater controls through reporting systems, intelligent control systems, biological cleaning agents, organic food in hospital kitchens, the reduction of disposable products, the unsealing of surfaces and, last but not least, better accessibility by bicycle and public transport.
Under the "People" pillar, the following are primarily Environmentally and socially compatible measures for employees and patients to be found. This includes, for example, giving preference to hospital textiles that comply with the OEKO-TEX, GOTS and FairTrade environmental labels. Employees should receive individual offers for health support and a direct connection to kindergartens and day care. Patients will benefit from the change to a green hospital through healthier food, more precise control systems and improved, culturally sensitive treatment.
Ultimately, this has a positive effect not only on the environment, but also on patients and, not least, on hospital staff. Because also the Healthcare jobs become significantly more attractive as a result of sustainable change and - together with appropriate remuneration - should lead to greater satisfaction.
The hospitals of the future are green
The basic idea of Green Hospitals is to promote the health of the population while protecting the environment. The developed Concepts and guidelines serve as a model for countless clinicsThe result is that the great potential for the health of their patients, for cost savings and, last but not least, for environmental protection has not yet been fully exploited.
I hope that this article has provided you with valuable information about sustainable hospitals. Do you have any questions, tips or your own experiences that you would like to share? Then I look forward to your comments!
PS.: Do you already know why you preferably Spend a lot of time outdoors in nature should? In the linked article you can find out exactly. Have fun!
₁ Health Care Without Harm: The EU healthcare sector is a major contributor to the climate crisis (as of Sept. 10, 2019), available at https://noharm-europe.org/articles/press-release/europe/eu-healthcare-sector-major-contributor-climate-crisis. [25.11.2021].
₂ Global Green and Healthy Hospitals: About HCWH, available at https://www.greenhospitals.net/about-hcwh. [25.11.2021].
₃ Anette Braun, Sylvie Rijkers-Defrasne, Heike Seitz; Resource Efficiency Center: Resource-efficient water concepts for hospitals, available at https://www.ressource-deutschland.de/fileadmin/user_upload/downloads/kurzanalysen/2015-Kurzanalyse-11-VDI-ZRE-Krankenhäuser.pdf. [25.11.2021].
₄ Global Green and Healthy Hospitals: WHO Promotes GGHH's Agenda Goals to Green the Health Care Sector, available at https://www.greenhospitals.net/who-promotes-gghhs-agenda-goals-to-green-the-health-care-sector. [25.11.2021].
₅ IWSB - Institute for Economic Studies Basel: Green Hospital - Definition "Sustainability", available at https://www.greenhospital.ch/publications/Green_Hospital_Definition_Nachhaltigkeit.pdf. [25.11.2021].
₆ Nicola Like, Joachim Szecsenyi, Michel Wensing et al: Green Hospitals - Climate Protection in Hospitals, available at https://www.aerzteblatt.de/archiv/212983/Green-Hospitals-Klimaschutz-im-Krankenhaus. [25.11.2021].
₇ Bavarian State Ministry of Health and Care: Green HospitalPLUS Bayern - Das nachhaltige Krankenhaus, available at https://www.stmgp.bayern.de/meine-themen/fuer-krankenhausbetreiber/green-hospital-plus. [25.11.2021].