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Spokane Hospital Earns 2014 Clean Air Award

March 11, 2014

Reprinted from "On the Air," a newsletter about clean air, produced by the Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency.

Spokane, WA—As you might imagine, a lot goes on behind the scenes to keep a large medical facility operating. What you may not realize is the comprehensive environmental stewardship efforts underway at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center & Children’s Hospital. Their efforts were recently recognized as the 2014 Clean Air Award Recipient, presented by Spokane Clean Air.

The 1.7 million square foot hospital complex towers on the hill just south of downtown. What you can't see from the outside is the hospital's top-to-bottom commitment to environmental stewardship. One of their guiding principles is that, "there is a relationship between the health of those seeking care from Providence and the well-being of the planet.”

Putting this guiding principal into action are the medical center employees themselves, who serve on the internal Environmental Stewardship Council. The council establishes specific goals in the areas of waste reduction, energy use, water consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, sustainable facility design, and ecologically sound food systems. The council developed tools to measure their progress toward meeting specific goals. What Providence is doing has a positive effect on our environment while saving hundreds of thousands of dollars.

To implement their goals, Providence established a "Green Team" of employees. The team has documented results including a robust waste reduction program that has saved hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Sacred Heart Medical Center's Spokane, WA Green Team: Phil Kercher (Facilities), Sister Rosalie Locati (Mission), Ryan Nelson (Security) and Lori Barschig (Commute Trip Reduction coordinator). Also pictured is John A., who was named a February Most Valuable Commuter for his commitment to bicycle commuting.  John has used a commute alternative to driving along (primarily walking or biking) for 23 years!
Sacred Heart Medical Center's Spokane, WA Green Team: Phil Kercher (Facilities), Sister Rosalie Locati (Mission), Ryan Nelson (Security) and Lori Barschig (Commute Trip Reduction coordinator). Also pictured is John A., who was named a February Most Valuable Commuter for his commitment to bicycle commuting. John has used a commute alternative to driving along (primarily walking or biking) for 23 years!

In 2012 they recycled 474 tons of paper & cardboard, 15 tons of batteries and fluorescent lamps, 9 tons of cooking oil, 6 tons of electronics, 6 tons of medical supplies and 34 tons of sharps containers. In addition, they recycled and reused 365 gallons of xylene, a harmful solvent used in laboratories, and they reprocess surgical equipment which has reduced another 6 tons of waste.

After a recent remodel, Providence donated 26.5 tons of old fixtures instead of throwing away.

In the energy conservation arena, the medical center is also having great success. A lighting upgrade project alone is saving over $150,000 per year. In their newly renovated emergency room, they installed a high-efficiency, low maintenance fan wall supply air system. They also installed a glycol heat recovery system which extracts wasted energy from the exhaust air and uses it to pre-heat intake air.

Providence’s water conservation efforts are numerous, including specialized faucets and toilets that use less water. In a facility this size, every flush and switch of a light makes a difference!

Lets turn our attention to food. The medical center always gets high marks for their delicious cafeteria options. Now they also earn high marks for creating a "green” food services program facility-wide. They use biodegradable products made from recycled materials. They also compost about 19 tons of food waste each year.

As one of the area's largest employers (over 4,000 employees) Providence has an award-winning Commute Trip Reduction program that hundreds of their employees participate in by using alternate commute modes. They offer bus and vanpool subsidies, preferential parking for carpoolers, guaranteed ride home for emergencies, covered and secured bicycle areas, showers and lockers, etc. Teleworking and compressed work week schedules are other options.

Over the past five years, their Commute Trip Reduction program has eliminated 2.46 million miles and 100,000 vehicle trips, resulting in a savings of more than 20 tons of carbon monoxide pollution and 590 tons of carbon dioxide emissions from being emitted to our air.

Spokane Clean Air permits and inspects equipment at the hospital complex, including boilers, generators, and ethylene oxide sterilizers. They have a good record of meeting air quality compliance requirements to minimize their air emissions. They take care to maintain and operate their equipment properly and keep good records.

Providence's dedication to improving air quality, along with their comprehensive environmental stewardship programs, are to be commended. Congratulations!