The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center is committed to being a responsible steward of our resources through efficient operations, innovative research and ideas and to “first, do no harm.” Great health starts with a healthy environment, which is why the wellbeing of our patients, employees and community members inspires us to work harder. From waste to energy to the food we serve, we have a responsibility to demonstrate health in our operations.
All of our sustainability efforts align with our Strategic Plan and The Ohio State University’s resource stewardship goals. The progress toward sustainability initiatives at the medical center is extraordinary and this page only captures a small sample of the outstanding work and our successes.
Sustainability Awards, Recognition and Leadership
The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center is committed to sustainable practices and sharing best practices with other institutions to further sustainability initiatives across the nation. The medical center’s commitment and successful integration of sustainability practices have been recognized locally and nationally:
- Practice Greenhealth’s Emerald Environmental Excellence and Climate Circles of Excellence Awards.
- Ohio Hospital Association’s John Chapman and Melvin Creeley Awards.
- Ohio EPA’s Encouraging Environmental Excellence (E3) Achievement Award.
- Arbor Day Tree Campus Healthcare Recognition.
- Participation in leadership groups such as:
Sustainability Program: Energy
Hospitals use about two and a half times more energy per square foot than an office building of the same size. From research, we know that emissions from fossil fuels are linked to a multitude of health conditions; therefore, The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center is working to improve energy efficiency and transition to more renewable energy sources.
- In partnership with the Ohio State Energy Partners, investment grade audits were completed for multiple buildings and as a result, energy reduction projects are being implemented.
- 16% renewable electricity sourced locally from Blue Creek Wind Farm.
- The Information Technology team has been working on data center projects which have reduced power usage by 32%.
Sustainability Program: Waste
Hospitals produce an average of 29 pounds of waste per patient stay. Healthcare’s complex waste stream is also expensive with regulated medical waste costing ten times as much as solid waste. The medical center is committed to first preventing waste upstream and managing it appropriately through landfill diversion, recycling, composting and ensuring items end up in the correct waste stream.
- Increased the diversion rate to nearly 33%, with efforts like recycling expansion to all buildings, education through digital signage and posters and zero waste orientation sessions.
- Since 2014, we have reduced printing by 21%, which has resulted in approximately a $200,000 savings.
- During COVID-19, the medical center collaborated with Battelle on N-95 mask collection and re-sterilization to preserve nearly 22,000 masks, reduce waste and protect PPE.
Sustainability Program: Greening the OR
On average, operating rooms drive up to 60% of a hospital’s revenue and produce more than 30% of a facility’s waste, two-thirds of its regulated medical waste and consume nearly three to six times more energy per square foot than anywhere else in the facility. The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center formed a Greening the OR taskforce to look at best practices and implement new practices to improve efficiency and reduce waste.
- One goal of the task force was to lower the environmental impact of gases associated with anesthesia, with a special focus on reducing the use of desflurane, which has 10 times the global warming potential as sevoflurane. The task force achieved a 46% reduction of desflurane across the health system, achieving nearly $109,000 in cost savings.
- Collection of blue sterilization wrap (keeps instruments sterile) at two pilot sites resulted in more than 2000 pounds diverted from landfills.
Sustainability Program: Sustainable Procurement
Hospitals purchase an enormous amount of goods and services, which presents an opportunity to make sustainable purchasing decisions that positively impact our community and the environment.
- Since 2011, we have diverted nearly 100 tons of single use devices from the landfills through a reprocessed medical device program and saved $6.7 million.
- We have developed sustainable procurement guidelines and integrated sustainability criteria into the request for proposal (RFP) scoring matrix.
- 75% of our spend with Vizient, our Group Purchasing Organization had at least one environmental attribute, such as a product containing forest stewardship certified wood or a recyclable plastic.
- Achieved the goal of purchasing more than 30% of furnishings that meet the Healthier Interiors criteria through Practice Greenhealth.
Sustainability Program: Food
Food is at the heart of the health of our patients and community. The medical center recognizes the impact that the food we purchase and serve our patients, faculty, staff and visitors has on their health. Further, this is another item for us to tackle in our communities.
- 16% of all food purchased by the medical center is sourced locally.
- Food waste reduction efforts such as donation, composting, and others have resulted in a total of 170 tons of food being diverted from the landfill.
- Nutrition Services and The James Mobile Education Kitchen responded to the needs of our community during COVID-19 and provided meals to more than 1,500 community members.
Sustainability Program: Employee Engagement, Education and Research
Employees who believe they have the opportunity to make a direct social and environmental impact through their job report higher satisfaction levels, according to a Net Impact survey. Attracting and retaining the top talent in clinical care, research and education is a priority for the medical center. Acquiring top talent allows medical centers like ours to accelerate the pace of discovery, quickly translate research findings into treatments and prevention methods as well as ensure that we have well-trained and engaged healthcare providers in the years ahead.
- 650 employees are members of the staff engagement Green Team and 40 departmental leaders participate in the Sustainability Council.
- Green Team members organize events and educational opportunities such as Earth Day Fairs, Take Back Days, educational webinars, grand rounds and film series.
- Employees conduct interdisciplinary research such as a recent project to analyze the environmental impact of anesthesia gases during surgery.