Health Care: Virginia Mason, The Everett Clinic

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Green winner logoVirginia Mason Medical Center

Hospitals in Seattle have recognized that making changes for the environment also means saving money. Virginia Mason caught the Green Washington judges’ eyes with its total hospital conversion toward environmental efficiency. With more than 5,000 employees and 850,000 patient visits, Virginia Mason has made a huge effort to cut down food-related waste. It eliminated the use of Styrofoam containers in the kitchen and now composts 15 tons of food and material waste each month, which also saves 160,000 gallons of water a year. The non-compostable food waste is sent to Seattle Steam, where it is converted into steam and sent back to Virginia Mason and used for heating and equipment sterilization.

Location: Seattle

Employees: 5,000

Website: virginiamason.org

Virginia Mason was the first hospital in the region to start recycling within the operating room. Once accounting for 30 percent of Virginia Mason’s waste, operating rooms now recycle 80 percent of the refuse generated each week, representing 800 pounds of material. All of this recycling has allowed Virginia Mason to reduce garbage collection to five days a week. Virginia Mason’s staff is jumping aboard the green effort, with 70 percent carpooling or taking public transportation. Virginia Mason also subsidizes 75 percent of alternate commute costs for employees.

Runner-up:

The Everett Clinic

Location: Everett

Employees: 2,000

Website: everettclinic.com

The Everett Clinic is working to reduce its footprint through innovative ideas like its Night Watchman program, which allows computers that are not being used to be shut down remotely. The energy savings this program generates have the same effect as taking 176 cars off the road each year. Coupled with local partnerships and a commitment to employee environmental education, the Everett Clinic is extending its green initiatives outside the hospital walls.

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