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.
7 New Technologies That Could Radically Change Our Energy Consumption
Most of our focus on technological development to lessen our environmental impact has been focused on cleaner, more efficient methods of generating electricity. The cost of solar energy production, for example, is slated to fall more than 75 percent between 2010 and 2020.
This is a massive step forward, and it’s good that engineers and researchers are working for even more advancements in this area. But what about technologies that reduce the amount of energy we demand in the first place?
Though it doesn’t get as much attention in the press, we’re making tremendous progress in this area, too.
New Technologies to Watch
These are some of the top emerging technologies that have the power to reduce our energy demands:
- Self-driving cars. Self-driving cars are still in development, but they’re already being hailed as potential ways to eliminate a number of problems on the road, including the epidemic of distracted driving ironically driven by other new technologies. However, even autonomous vehicle proponents often miss the tremendous energy savings that self-driving cars could have on the world. With a fleet of autonomous vehicles at our beck and call, consumers will spend less time driving themselves and more time carpooling, dramatically reducing overall fuel consumption once it’s fully adopted.
- Magnetocaloric tech. The magnetocaloric effect isn’t exactly new—it was actually discovered in 1881—but it’s only recently being studied and applied to commercial appliances. Essentially, this technology relies on changing magnetic fields to produce a cooling effect, which could be used in refrigerators and air conditioners to significantly reduce the amount of electricity required.
- New types of insulation. Insulation is the best asset we have to keep our homes thermoregulated; they keep cold or warm air in (depending on the season) and keep warm or cold air out (again, depending on the season). New insulation technology has the power to improve this efficiency many times over, decreasing our need for heating and cooling entirely. For example, some new automated sealing technologies can seal gaps between 0.5 inches wide and the width of a human hair.
- Better lights. Fluorescent bulbs were a dramatic improvement over incandescent bulbs, and LEDs were a dramatic improvement over fluorescent bulbs—but the improvements may not end there. Scientists are currently researching even better types of light bulbs, and more efficient applications of LEDs while they’re at it.
- Better heat pumps. Heat pumps are built to transfer heat from one location to another, and can be used to efficiently manage temperatures—keeping homes warm while requiring less energy expenditure. For example, some heat pumps are built for residential heating and cooling, while others are being used to make more efficient appliances, like dryers.
- The internet of things. The internet of things and “smart” devices is another development that can significantly reduce our energy demands. For example, “smart” windows may be able to respond dynamically to changing light conditions to heat or cool the house more efficiently, and “smart” refrigerators may be able to respond dynamically to new conditions. There are several reasons for this improvement. First, smart devices automate things, so it’s easier to control your energy consumption. Second, they track your consumption patterns, so it’s easier to conceptualize your impact. Third, they’re often designed with efficiency in mind from the beginning, reducing energy demands, even without the high-tech interfaces.
- Machine learning. Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies have the power to improve almost every other item on this list. By studying consumer patterns and recommending new strategies, or automatically controlling certain features, machine learning algorithms have the power to fundamentally change how we use energy in our homes and businesses.
Making the Investment
All technologies need time, money, and consumer acceptance to be developed. Fortunately, a growing number of consumers are becoming enthusiastic about finding new ways to reduce their energy consumption and overall environmental impact. As long as we keep making the investment, our tools to create cleaner energy and demand less energy in the first place should have a massive positive effect on our environment—and even our daily lives.
Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis
Retiring baby-boomers are facing a retirement cliff, at the same time as mother nature unleashes her fury with devastating storms tied to the impact of global warming. There could be a unique solution to the challenges associated with climate change – investments in clean energy from retirement funds.
Financial savings play a very important role in everyone’s life and one must start planning for it as soon as possible. It’s shocking how quickly seniors can burn through their nest egg – leaving many wondering, “How long your retirement savings will last?”
Let’s take a closer look at how seniors can take baby steps on the path to retiring with dignity, while helping to clean up our environment.
Tip #1: Focus & Determination
Like in other work, it is very important to focus and be determined. If retirement is around the corner, then make sure to start putting some money away for retirement. No one can ever achieve anything without dedication and focus – whether it’s saving the planet, or saving for retirement.
Tip #2: Minimize Spending
One of the most important things that you need to do is to minimize your expenditures. Reducing consumption is good for the planet too!
Tip #3: Visualize Your Goal
You can achieve more if you have a clearly defined goal in life. This about how your money can be used to better the planet – imagine cleaner air, water and a healthier environment to leave to your grandchildren.
Investing in Clean Energy
One of the hottest and most popular industries for investment today is the energy market – the trading of energy commodities. Clean energy commodities are traded alongside dirty energy supplies. You might be surprised to learn that clean energy is becoming much more competitive.
With green biz becoming more popular, it is quickly becoming a powerful tool for diversified retirement investing.
The Future of Green Biz
As far as the future is concerned, energy businesses are going to continue getting bigger and better. There are many leading energy companies in the market that already have very high stock prices, yet people are continuing to investing in them.
Green initiatives are impacting every industry. Go Green campaigns are a PR staple of every modern brand. For the energy-sector in the US, solar energy investments are considered to be the most accessible form of clean energy investment. Though investing in any energy business comes with some risks, the demand for energy isn’t going anywhere.
In conclusion, if you want to start saving for your retirement, then clean energy stocks and commodity trading are some of the best options for wallets and the planet. Investing in clean energy products, like solar power, is a more long-term investment. It’s quite stable and comes with a significant profit margin. And it’s amazing for the planet!