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At Valley Health System, the healthcare mantra “Do no harm” doesn’t just apply to patients and staff – it’s a promise to our community and environment, too.
Over the past several years, and as a member of Practice Greenhealth, Valley has taken many steps to reduce our footprint and help sustain the health of our community. Here's how:
What’s Cooking at Valley?
We’re committed to providing not only more nutritionally sound meal choices, but also sustainable, local food that doesn’t tax an already overburdened food system. With more than 1 million meals served yearly, it’s been a huge, but rewarding, undertaking.
- “Meatless Monday” options at The Valley Hospital make a huge impact on the environment and community health.
- Our on-site vegetable and herb garden – plus a partnership with Catalpa Ridge Farm – brings more offerings of fruits and vegetables to our menus.
- We’re proud to provide foods grown and harvested in an environmentally responsible manner, including antibiotic- and hormone-free milk, fair-trade coffee and cage-free eggs.
- Honey produced by Valley’s bees (which are managed by Bee Bold Apiaries) is used in food prepared by Valley, as well as sold to the community at the hospital’s gift shop.
- Valley Dining recycles 2,700 gallons of fryer oil every year, which is collected and converted into biodiesel fuel.
- Aluminum use at Valley decreased by 50 percent starting in 2011.
Sustainability by Design
Thanks to a grant from PSE&G’s Hospital Efficiency Program, we’ve been able to make reductions in energy consumption, including:
- Replacing the lighting outside and in the hospital’s lobby with LED lights
- Optimizing chiller plants, which help cool the air in a building
- Upgrading building management systems and replacing pneumatic HVAC controls with DDC (direct digital controls); HVAC systems are also being switched to variable air volume (VAV) systems, which still meet codes necessary for hospital air flow, but regulate heating and cooling based on need
- Using motion detector sensors, which turn off lighting when a room is not in use, and dimmers, which detect when a room can be lit by daylight alone
- Linking carbon monoxide detectors to parking garage fans; these detectors allow fans to shut down when parking areas are not in use
- Installing five charging stations for electric vehicles
Valley’s waste prevention and recycling activities earned recognition by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which named Valley the national 2018 Non-Profit Organization Partner of the Year. In 2017, Valley diverted more than 830,554 pounds of material from landfills and incinerators and increased its single-stream recycling by 10 tons by improving access to bins, creating a special sort center, and focusing more on employee education and engagement.
Here are other ways we’ve worked to meet our Practice Green Health objectives:
- We've succeeded in increasing our recycling numbers, from 295 tons (or 17 percent of all waste) in 2013 to 437 tons – or 22 percent – in 2014. These materials include everything from batteries to light bulbs, computer equipment, cardboard, construction debris, metal, carpeting and medical instruments.
- We introduced blue wrap recycling, which recycles the material used to cover sterilized surgical instruments.
- Since 2009, we’ve cut the amount of regulated medical waste we produce from 266 tons to 111 tons, for a $77,500 reduction in disposal cost.
- Valley made the switch to reusable hospital gowns, which took 63 tons of waste out of the waste stream. (Previously, 2,300 disposable gowns were discarded every day at Valley, with 840,000 gowns thrown out every year.)
- Changing to a more efficient washing and decontamination system for carts and surgical tables reduced related water use from 367,200 gallons to 79,200 gallons.
- Reprocessing single-use items, such as shavers, scalpels and tourniquet cuffs, reduced waste by 6 tons and saved $41,000 in supply costs in 2014.