This May, four employees from the University of Vermont Medical Center traveled to Portland, OR to attend CleanMed 2015, a Practice Greenhealth (PGH) event celebrating achievements in healthcare sustainability.

For the sixth consecutive year, the UVM Medical Center earned top honors for its green efforts.

In this post, we’ll explore what these awards mean and how we earned them.

Awards breakdown

Perhaps our most notable 2015 PGH distinction is the Top 25 Environmental Excellence Award. Described by PGH as the “highest honor for hospitals,” this award recognizes the UVM Medical Center as a national leader in healthcare sustainability.

We also won six Circles of Excellence Awards, which recognize the top ten hospitals in various sustainability categories. Our awards include:

  • Leadership: From our grassroots, employee-driven Green Team to our higher-level Sustainability Council, the UVM Medical Center takes a cross-organizational approach to promoting sustainability. This includes environmental education, communications, and investing in sustainable projects.
  • Less Waste: We earned this distinction through our comprehensive recycling program, as well as various waste-reduction initiatives, like installing water bottle filling stations and educating staff on the different waste streams.
  • Chemicals: We won this circle by adopting a Green Cleaning program, reducing hazardous chemicals, enforcing a chemical purchasing policy, etc.
  • Greening the OR: Initiatives like recycling blue wrap, collecting single-use medical devices, and adopting energy-saving technology (like LED lights) have helped the UVM Medical Center establish itself as a leader in OR sustainability.
  • Healthy Food: With its weekly farmers’ markets, CSA drop offs, and kitchens teeming with locally-sourced food, the UVM Medical Center makes it easy for patients and staff to eat healthy.
  • Green Building: Our various LEED-certified projects and plans for future green buildings helped us win this Circle of Excellence Award.

The UVM Medical Center – Fanny Allen Campus, competing for PGH awards as a separate campus for the first time, earned an Emerald Award, as well as Healthy Food Circle Award.

With a cumulative nine awards, the UVM Medical Center received more accolades than any other competing healthcare facility in the country.

Working towards a greener tomorrow

Though the UVM Medical Center has much to celebrate, our work is far from over. To continue leading the healthcare sustainability movement, we must further develop and refine our green practices and policies.

The UVM Medical Center relies on the support of staff and the community to achieve its sustainability goals. By adapting environmentally-conscious practices—like sorting your recycling, reducing your energy use, and buying locally sourced goods—you can help us in our mission towards a greener future. 

Danielle Calaway is a Staff Assistant in Facilities Management and a member of the University of Vermont Medical Center Green Team.

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