Conservation Efforts Sprout Across the Sutter Health Network
Sutter Health’s Perspective
As a not-for-profit health care network, Sutter Health strives to make the community healthier—this includes doing our part to create a sustainable environment. From conservation and recycling to green construction, Sutter Health finds and implements eco-friendly practices that nurture our communities and allow us to continue providing the high-quality care and exceptional service our patients expect and deserve.
Industry Background and Trends
Health care facilities by their very nature use a great deal of natural resources. Over the past several years, these facilities have been able to implement changes thanks to a focus on energy efficiency and conservation within the industry. Now, many new hospitals incorporate sustainable design into their very early planning stages. That means designing for energy efficiency, reducing water consumption, improving indoor air quality, making better building material choices and reducing the overall environmental impact of health care operations.
Stats and Facts
- Sutter Health partners with our designers to find solutions to reduce energy consumption. We’ve installed sensors throughout buildings to measure temperature, humidity, airflow and electricity use. We track and analyze this information so our facility managers can adjust heating and air conditioning systems to ensure the smartest energy usage and most effective equipment performance. We can detect issues early, reducing the risk for breakdowns, costly emergency repairs, and patient and employee discomfort.
- We embrace sustainability options while in the planning stages for new hospitals and care centers, including installing more energy-efficient fixtures and equipment.
- We’re replacing traditional lighting with LED and other high-efficiency lighting.
- Our electronic health record and other digital systems such as online forms and automated invoices reduce the amount of paper we use and store.
- Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital earned LEED Gold certification—the first, new ground-up-built hospital in California to gain the honor. “Gold” ranks as the second-highest certification under the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating systems. The hospital also installed an on-site fuel cell system that cleanly generates a large percentage of its electric power.
- At LEED Silver-certified Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, we established a very early commitment to green design and sustainability in construction of the new Patient Care Pavilion. The project used the precursor to the new LEED for Healthcare standards and surpassed many of the conservation regulations set forth by the State of California. Among our many green efforts in construction of the Pavilion: we recycled more than 90 percent of the demolished Bechtel Hall, used PVC-free interior finishes, water-saving plumbing fixtures and energy-efficient appliances, planted drought-tolerant and native vegetation and installed a high-performing roof design to minimize the heat island effect. In addition, the medical center recycles approximately 942 tons of waste annually including cardboard, yard clippings, food waste (composting), kitchen grease, paper, plastic and glass.
- Five separate roof gardens will crown California Pacific Medical Center’s Van Ness and Geary Campus, adding 25,000 square feet of green space. Shady oak woodlands and coastal meadow plants will soothe and provide respite within the hospital’s urban location. Native wildflowers will bloom with seasonal color and perennial plants will attract pollinators and Monarch butterflies, creating a healing habitat.
- Eden Medical Center recycles approximately 40 percent of all the facility’s waste.
- In 2014, Modesto’s Memorial Medical Center recycled 128.3 tons of waste, 312 cubic yards of metal cans, 200 tons of paper, and reuses 90 percent of sharp containers, which greatly reduces the use of one-time-only sharp containers. In addition, the facility produces compost through a windrow process that helps reduce landfill waste and helps nourish trees, flowers and plants when used as mulch.
- Across our network, we use highly efficient laundry equipment at a LEED-certified facility saving 12 million gallons of water annually. That’s half the usage of a typical laundry plant.
- Care centers and hospitals across our not-for-profit network modified irrigation schedules to comply with all of our local restriction schedules.
- At our Palo Alto Medical Foundation’s San Carlos Center, we introduced native and drought-resistant plants, shrubs and trees. We also installed a high-efficiency irrigation system with a real-time weather data controller that minimizes the use of water. The sitewide irrigation system exceeds LEED Gold level goals for water reduction.
- At our Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital, we installed an efficient outdoor irrigation system that waters drought-tolerant plants only when needed. We divert storm water from the hospital’s roof to bioswales and catch basins on the site, to allow rain water to slowly infiltrate back into the soil, recharging the underground aquifer. We expect a 50 percent water savings with this new system.
- In another example at Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital, we partnered with the Sonoma County Water Agency and completed a High Efficiency Fixture Direct Installation Program to significantly reduce potable water use in the neighboring community. We replaced older plumbing fixtures with new, high-efficiency models that reduce water consumption by more than 26,300 gallons per day in almost 300 nearby homes. We installed low-flow toilets, sinks and shower fixtures to reduce water use, decreasing internal water consumption by 34 percent.
- Several of our hospitals in the greater Sacramento area installed low-flow faucets, showerheads and toilets, which yield significant water savings. We reduced water consumption by 27 percent at Sutter Solano Medical Center in Vallejo, 16 percent at Sutter Davis Hospital, 14 percent at Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital and 13 percent at Sutter Amador Hospital in Jackson.
- California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco implemented water conservation measures at its four campuses. We replaced inefficient urinals, toilets and showerheads, and installed low-flow shower faucets while also upgrading the building’s cooling system saving a total of 18,739,000 gallons of water annually or 24 percent.
- Our California Pacific Medical Center’s Van Ness and Geary Campus in San Francisco will achieve LEED certification, and we aim for LEED Silver certification at our adjacent medical office building. The campus will feature sustainable and innovative designs to conserve water and energy including high-efficiency, low-flow plumbing fixtures, which will save more than 3 million gallons of water per year. A leading-edge nonchemical water treatment system will decrease the amount of water use in the hospital’s cooling tower. The building will also capture rainwater and use it to drip-irrigate native planting areas on the roof garden, saving 180,000 gallons each year of drinkable water that would otherwise go into the sewer and storm water system.
- At Memorial Medical Center in Modesto, we reduced landscape-watering time from three to two times a week. In addition, we replaced our water systems with drip irrigation, and we only pressure wash walkways, stairs and patios for safety.