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6 Ways Healthcare Organizations Can Go Green

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hospital By Jelle Boontje via stock.xchng

Most businesses these days are at least marginally interested in “going green.” Some of them want to support environmental protection efforts that are becoming increasingly necessary on an international scale. Some of them want to be a part of the trend, or are looking to cash in on the public image benefits that go along with becoming environmentally friendly. Even businesses who aren’t after these goals are interested in going green, purely for the sake of reducing the cost of resources and operating more efficiently.

Still, it’s harder for some businesses and organizations to “go green” than it is for others, and the healthcare industry faces particular challenges in this regard.


Why It’s Hard for Healthcare Organizations to Go Green

Why do healthcare organizations have a harder time going green than other organizations?

– Tight funding. For many healthcare organizations, going green simply isn’t practical because funds are already limited. This is especially true for nonprofit organizations, who won’t be able to afford things like solar panels or other massive institutions.

– Energy demands. Most “green” strategies involve reducing the energy demands of a facility, but in hospitals and healthcare organizations, energy is needed to keep people alive and healthy. This priority can’t be sacrificed.


– Bureaucratic decision making processes. Many healthcare organizations are massive and decisions are subject to multiple levels of approval, slowing down the potential adoption process for new changes.

– Higher priorities. The lives and health of patients are often in the balance, and energy efficiency often deservedly takes a backseat to those priorities. A technological investment for a new diagnostic tool is often more valuable and more important than a similar investment for a more efficient piece of equipment.

Strategies for Success

Fortunately, there are a number of ways that hospitals and other healthcare organizations can improve their environmental friendliness:

1. Adopt a paperless medical records system. One of your first steps is to finish your conversion to a paperless medical records system. Older medical records systems relied on stacks of paper for every patient, kept dutifully and indefinitely, wasting tons of paper each year and occupying vast amounts of physical space. Digital systems are easier to manage, easier to store and retrieve, and most importantly for a green organization—they don’t require any physical resources to maintain.

2. Source food and resources locally. Most healthcare facilities offer a cafeteria or some kind of food for their patients. Those that don’t have requirements for other resources, from clothing to furniture, to keep their organization running smoothly. If you can, opt to source these items locally. Locally sourced food tends to be riper, more nutritious, and tastier, but more importantly, it cuts down on the massive amounts of energy and waste needed to transport other kinds of food.

3. Utilize efficient means of waste disposal. Healthcare organizations produce many kinds of waste, which is unpreventable. However, you can institute new systems to minimize and manage your waste disposal. A simple recycling program can help you cut back on your overall waste, but the real problem comes in sanitization processes, which are necessary for various forms of medical waste. Seek energy-efficient forms of medical waste disposal whenever possible, and increase your knowledge on alternative methods, such as autoclaving and chemical treatment instead of incineration.

4. Use greener cleaning products. Most hospitals and healthcare organization demand high standards of cleanliness, which in turn demand reliance on cleaning products. However, you have a choice in what types of cleaning products you use, and some are better for the environment than others. Keep a close eye on the chemicals used in each of your products, as well as the types of waste they generate, and make your purchasing decisions accordingly.

5. Conserve water where possible. This is a tough change for healthcare organizations, but even small tweaks can make a big difference. For example, reducing the amount of water used in a single flush or single shower can add up to a massive reduction in overall water use on a larger scale.

6. Keep your staff informed of your overall impact. Simply raising the awareness of your staff can bear a massive impact on your bottom-line environmental friendliness. For example, helping them use fewer resources to complete a job—such as less water or lower amounts of cleaning products—can eventually add up and have a massive impact on your organization’s bottom-line efficiency. Instituting these habit changes is difficult, since there’s no easy way to monitor their adherence, but a simple training seminar can help instill a better environmentally-friendly mentality among your workers.

Few of these changes require massive infrastructural improvements, new rules, new regulations, or significant sums of money to instate. In fact, most of them can be instituted with minimal disruptions to your ordinary processes, looking instead toward minor changes in outlook and behavior. Start small, with a few new systems and greater institutional awareness, and eventually you can scale your way up to something bigger.

 

Energy

Are the UK Governments Plans for the Energy Sector Smart?

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The revolution in the energy sector marches on, wind turbines and solar panels are harnessing more renewable energy than ever before – so where is it all leading?

The UK government have recently announced plans to modernise the way we produce, store and use electricity. And, if realised, the plans could be just the thing to bring the energy sector in line with 21st century technology and ideologies.


Central to the plans is an initiative that will see smart meters installed in homes and businesses the length and breadth of the country – and their aim? To create an environment where electricity can be managed more efficiently.

The news has prompted some speculation about how energy suppliers will react and many are predicting a price war. This could benefit consumers of electricity and investors, many of whom may be looking to make a profit by trading energy company shares online using platforms such as Oanda – but the potential for good news doesn’t end there.

Introducing New Technology

The plan, titled Smart Systems and Flexibility is being rolled out in the hope that it will have a positive impact in three core areas.

  • To offer consumers greater control by making smart meters available for all homes and businesses by 2020. Energy users will be able to monitor, control and record the amount of energy they use.
  • Incentivise energy suppliers to change the manner in which they buy electricity, to offer more smart tariffs and more off-peak periods for energy consumption.
  • Introduce new standards for electrical appliances – it is hoped that the new wave of appliances will recognise when electricity is at its cheapest and at its most expensive and respond accordingly.

How the Plans Will Affect Solar Energy

Around 7 million houses in the UK have solar panels and the government say that their plan will benefit them as they will be able to store electricity on batteries. The stored energy can then be used by the household and excess energy can be exported to the national grid – in this instance lower tariffs or even payment for the excess energy will bring down annual costs significantly.


The rate of return on energy exported to the national grid is currently between 6% and 10%, but there are many variables to take into account, such as, the cost of battery storage and light levels. Still, those with state-of-the-art solar electricity systems could end up with an annual profit after selling their excess energy.

The Internet of Things

Much of what the plans set out to achieve are linked to the now ubiquitous “internet of things” – where, for example, appliances and heating systems are connected to the internet in order to make them function more smartly.

Companies like Hive have already made great inroads into this type of technology, but the road that the government plans are heading down, will, potentially, go much further -blockchain technology looms and has already proved to be a game changer in the world of currency.

Blockchain Technology

It has already been suggested that the peer to peer selling of energy and exporting it to the national grid may eventually be done using blockchain technology.

“The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.”

Don and Alex Tapscott, Blockchain Revolution (2016)

The upshot of the government’s plans for the revolution of the energy sector, is that technology will play an indelible role in making it more efficient, more flexible and ultimately more sustainable.

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Energy

4 Case Studies on the Benefits of Solar Energy

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Demand for solar energy is growing at a surprising rate. New figures from SolarPower Europe show that solar energy production has risen 50% since the summer of 2016.

However, many people are still skeptical of the benefits of solar energy.Does it actually make a significant reduction in our carbon footprint? Is it actually cost-effective for the company over the long-run?


A number of case studies have been conducted, which indicate solar energy can be enormously beneficial. Here are some of the most compelling studies on the subject.

1.     Boulder Nissan

When you think of companies that leverage solar power, car dealerships probably aren’t the first ones that come to mind. However, Boulder Nissan is highly committed to promoting green energy. They worked with Independent Power Systems to setup a number of solar cells. Here were the results:

  • Boulder Nissan has reduced coal generated electricity by 65%.
  • They are on track to run on 100% renewable energy within the next 13 years.
  • Boulder Nissan reduced CO2 emissions by 416,000 lbs. within the first year after installing their solar panels.

This is one of the most impressive solar energy case studies a small business has published in recent years. It shows that even small companies in rural communities can make a major difference by adapting solar energy.

2.     Valley Electric Association

In 2015, the Valley Electric Association (VEA) created an 80-acre solar garden. Before retiring from the legislature, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid praised the new project as a way to make the state more energy dependent and reduce our carbon footprint.


“This facility will provide its customers with the opportunity to purchase 100 percent of their electricity from clean energy produced in Nevada,” Reid told reporters with the Pahrump Valley Times. “That’s a step forward for the Silver State, but it also proves that utilities can work with customers to provide clean renewable energy that they demand.”

The solar energy that VEA produced was drastically higher than anyone would have predicted. SolarWorld estimates that the solar garden created 32,680,000 kwh every year, which was enough to power nearly 4,000 homes.

This was a major undertaking for a purple state, which may inspire their peers throughout the Midwest to develop solar gardens of their own. It will reduce dependency on the electric grid, which is a problem for many remote states in the central part of the country.

3.     Las Vegas Casinos

A number of Las Vegas casinos have started investing in solar panels over the last couple of years. The Guardian reports that many of these casinos have cut costs considerably. Some of them are even selling the energy back to the grid.

“It’s no accident that we put the array on top of a conference center. This is good business for us,” Cindy Ortega, chief sustainability officer at MGM Resorts told Guardian reporters. “We are looking at leaving the power system, and one of the reasons for that is we can procure more renewable energy on the open market.”

There have been many benefits for casinos using solar energy. They are some of the most energy-intensive institutions in the world, so this has helped them become much more cost-effective. It also helps minimize disruptions to their customers learning online keno strategies in the event of any problems with the electric grid.

4.     Boston College

Boston College has been committed to many green initiatives over the years. A group of researchers experimented with solar cells on different parts of the campus to see where they could produce the most electricity. They discovered that the best locationwas at St. Clement’sHall. The solar cells there dramatically. It would also reduce CO2 emissions by 521,702 lbs. a year and be enough to save 10,869 trees.

Boston College is exploring new ways to expand their usage of solar cells. They may be able to invest in more effective solar panels that can generate far more solar energy.

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