Green Washington Awards 2013: Health Care

October 29, 2013

Nick Horton

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WINNER: Virginia Mason Medical Center

With a hospital, six clinics and two research institutes operating throughout the Puget Sound region, Virginia Mason faced unusual challenges on its path toward sustainability. In response to those challenges, employees created EnviroMason, a sweeping environmental stewardship initiative, and Virginia Mason is now one of the nations greenest health care providers.

EnviroMason unites employees across the organization to improve recycling, ensure a sustainable food service program, promote clean transportation and increase building and facility performance. Between 2010 and 2012, the program reduced the hospitals annual output of hazardous medical waste by two-thirds. EnviroMason has also increased the amount of locally sourced organic meats, produce and Marine Stewardship Council-certified seafood in the 1.2 million meals served throughout the organization each year. Compostable utensils and food service products divert more than five tons of waste from landfills annually.

EnviroMasons crowning achievement? Thanks to subsidized bus and train travel, an active bicycle club and other alternative commuting initiatives, fewer than 30 percent of Virginia Mason Medical Centers 5,600 employees drive themselves to work.