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Green Hospitals - How medical service gets more sustainable

Green Hospitals - How hospitals are becoming more sustainable

What are green hospitals? And how can hospitals be made fundamentally more sustainable? 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 the activities in hospitals. 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 would like 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:

  1. Definition
  2. Targets
  3. Measures
  4. Closing words

1. definition

The organization Health Care Without Harm (HCWH for short) defines the term as a green and healthy hospitalthat promotes the health of the population by constantly reducing its ecological footprint and eliminating any negative impact on the suffering of the population. Its vision is for healthcare to mobilize its ethical, economic and political influence to create an environmentally sustainable, just and healthy world.₂

The main aim is to recognize the links between the environment and health and to derive preventive and targeted measures with the help of environmentally friendly business management. Through sustainable action, green hospitals should ultimately function in such a way that they protect the environment and save lives at the same time.

2. targets

With its global CO2 emissions, the healthcare sector even exceeds aviation and shipping. The potential for climate protection is therefore huge. Another valuable fact is the high water consumption per patient. Between 300 and 600 liters of water are required for each bed in German hospitals.₃ The potential for Save water can therefore be exploited. However, the ecological goals of the "Green Hospitals" need to be considered in much more detail.

The HCWH project Global Green and Healthy Hospitals has developed a comprehensive, holistic and global framework concept in which the areas of management, chemicals, waste, energy, water, food, transportation, pharmaceuticals, buildings and purchasing are harmonized and are intended to simplify sustainable action with regard to water consumption, waste management and energy management.₄

The exact target is primarily based on the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations₅:

  • Promoting health and well-being
  • Clean water and sanitary facilities
  • Affordable and clean energy
  • Decent work and economic growth
  • Industry, innovation and infrastructure
  • Sustainable cities and communities
  • Responsible consumption and production
  • Climate protection measures

3. measures

Making hospitals more sustainable

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 concerned:

  • Energy efficiency (e.g. ventilation, triple glazing, climate managers and insulating materials)
  • Interior (e.g. safety and atmosphere)
  • Efficient water use (e.g., water-efficient equipment and rainwater storage).
  • Sustainable site planning (e.g. green roofs and green rest areas)
  • Materials and resources (e.g. pollutant-free, ecological products)
  • Innovation (e.g. flowing work processes and frameless sanitary objects)
  • Other areas (e.g. waste avoidance 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".₇

The Energy efficiency is to be improved primarily by replacing outdated heating systems with modern energy-saving systems, thermal insulation glazing and façade optimizations. The entire hospital will also be powered exclusively by electricity from renewable sources.

The promotion of the Environmental protection For example, wastewater controls through alarm 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 should all contribute to this.

The "People" pillar primarily includes Environmentally and socially responsible 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 healthier food, more precise control systems and improved, culturally sensitive treatment, among other things, from the transformation to a green hospital.

Ultimately, this not only has a positive impact on the environment, but also on patients and, last but not least, hospital staff. Because the Healthcare jobs will 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 and protect the environment at the same time. The developed Concepts and guidelines serve as a model for countless clinicswho have not yet fully exploited the great potential for the health of their patients, for cost savings and, last but not least, for environmental protection.

I hope that I have been able to provide you with valuable information about sustainable hospitals in this article. Do you have any questions, tips or experiences of your own that you would like to share? Then I look forward to your comment!

Stay sustainable,

Christoph from CareElite - Plastic-free living

PS: Do you already know why you should Spend a lot of time outdoors in nature should? You can find out exactly in the linked article. Have fun!


₁ Health Care Without Harm: The EU healthcare sector is a major contributor to the climate crisis (as of 10.09.2019), available at [25.11.2021].

₂ Global Green and Healthy Hospitals: About HCWH, available at [25.11.2021].

₃ Anette Braun, Sylvie Rijkers-Defrasne, Heike Seitz; Center for Resource Efficiency: Resource-efficient water concepts for hospitals, available atäuser.pdf. [25.11.2021].

₄ Global Green and Healthy Hospitals: WHO Promotes GGHH's Agenda Goals to Green the Health Care Sector, available at [25.11.2021].

₅ IWSB - Institute for Economic Studies Basel: Green Hospital - Definition "Sustainability", available at [25.11.2021].

₆ Nicola Like, Joachim Szecsenyi, Michel Wensing et al: Green Hospitals - Climate protection in hospitals, available at [25.11.2021].

₇ Bavarian State Ministry of Health and Care: Green HospitalPLUS Bavaria - The sustainable hospital, available at [25.11.2021].

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* Links with asterisks are so-called Affiliate linksIf you click on it and buy something, you automatically and actively support my work with, as I receive a small share of the proceeds - and of course nothing changes in the product price. Many thanks for your support and best regards, Christoph!

Christoph Schulz

Christoph Schulz

I'm Christoph, an environmental scientist and author - and here at CareElite I'm campaigning against plastic waste in the environment, climate change and all the other major environmental problems of our time. Together with other environmentally conscious bloggers, I want to give you tips & tricks for a naturally healthy, sustainable life as well as your personal development.

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