Bronson Methodist Hospital: Bringing Sustainability Programming to the Next Level

The Problem

While Bronson Methodist Hospital had accomplished numerous sustainability successes in the past, the more easily achieved efforts had been implemented and next level strategies would require a much greater cost commitment of time and effort to achieve. As a result, old successes were maintained but new initiatives were slow in development, even when significant cost-reduction opportunities were identified. In order for Bronson to maintain its reputation as a leader in environmental stewardship in the sector, a method for increasing focus and attention solely on sustainability would have to be developed.

The Strategy Selected

Bronson Methodist Hospital’s environment of care and sustainability manager, Lisa Hardesty, partnered with local college Aquinas to create an internship for a student in the sustainable business program, a program made possible by Steelcase, Herman Miller and other regional businesses. The focus of the internship would be to produce a return of investment analysis for the creation of a position focusing on hospital reduction of resource use and capturing of sustainability financial incentives, such as ENERGY STAR rebates.

Bronson brought in intern Brendan Molony in June of 2014. He used the Green Guide for Health Care LEED O + M (operations and maintenance) Program as a template to assess the state of the current program and to begin to roadmap future sustainability activities. A final ROI assessment was completed in the fall of 2014 and successfully demonstrated beneficial financial and environmental outcomes associated with a full-time sustainability position. Using the ROI, the environmental safety and sustainability manager was able to present a case for budgeting resources from recently vacated positions to develop the new role around sustainability programming. The new position of sustainability coordinator was created in the fall of 2014, and would have the resources to explore potential opportunities that would lower operations costs, reduce resource utilization within the hospital, and capture financial incentives.

Implementation Process

The HHI Engaged Leadership Challenge was used to elevate the established hospital sustainability program to the next level. Bronson Methodist Hospital performed a gap analysis of the Challenge to establish a list of objectives that would further embed sustainability into the core operations of the health care environment.

One baseline requirement of the challenge was to create an executive commitment statement. The intern was tasked with developing the documentation while leadership was engaged for review and approval. Having an intern to evaluate the qualitative measures, as well as the support of the environmental safety and sustainability manager to drive engagement of upper management, was a very important aspect which attributed to the success of this Challenge.

The Engaged Leadership Challenge identified 24 other qualitative activities that can be tackled to further support a long-term, successful initiative integrated into the overall operations of the facility. The measures were identified as key activities which would create a more formal sustainability program that could withstand staffing changes, competing agendas and a 24/7 operation. The full list of opportunities is identified below. Bronson Methodist Hospital achieved the highest recognition of Level 3 by implementing more than the ten required qualitative measures.

HHI Engaged Leadership Challenge Activities
Baseline: Sign and submit an executive commitment statement.
No Create a strategic sustainability plan.
Yes Create an environmental mission statement/guiding principles/charter. 
No Formulate a sustainability program budget. (in the works) 
Yes Appoint a sustainability executive owner.
No Build in sustainability measures as an organizational priorty.
Yes Create a sustainability reporting structure.
Yes Create sustainability responsibilities within the organization.
Yes Create an environmental steering committee with routine meetings.
Yes Conduct a sustainability baseline assessment.
No Define measurable sustainability objectives.
Yes Identify leader for sustainability efforts.
Yes Identify the clinical champion.
Yes Demonstrate progress on at least two HHI challenges.
Yes Communicate progress on sustainability initiatives to the board.
Yes Report progress regularly on sustainability initiatives to the leadership team.
No Communicate sustainability progress from the leadership team to the organization regularly.
No Create and distribute an annual sustainability report.
No Provide a feedback mechanism for sustainability initiatives.
Yes Participate in programs to support employee and community engagement.
Yes Educate all employees about sustainability including new employee orienation.
No Share sustainability best practices within the industry.
Yes Engage organizational leaders to act as spokespeople for the sustainability program.
No Include sustainability initiatives in the community benefit report.

Factors Included in Bronson Hospital’s ROI Analysis:

Financial Benefits (savings or cost avoidance)

  • $3,560 Battery Savings
  • $912 Lead Recycling
  • $50,223.95 PC Management
  • $50,839 - SUD Reprocessing
  • $17,800 - Energy Rebates

Environmental Benefit (reduced energy, pounds reduced)

  • 502,239 kWh PC Management
  • 15,756 kWh AHU4 $27,439
  • 73,220 kWh Lighting Project $29,288
  • 160,017 kWh $17,601.87
  • Increased Recycling Rate from 16.9% (2013) to 29.35% (2014)

Other Measurable Outcomes (reduced exposure, increased satisfaction)

  • Better understanding of programs and outcomes.
  • Increased amount of sustainability programs and employee engagement.
  • Continuation of car seat recycling program.

Challenges and Lessons Learned

Hospitals can realize great benefit to a sustainability program through a team approach, and may benefit from considering internships or other low-cost strategies to focus on certain key areas. However in order to maximize the capabilities of a program, an identified team lead is optimal. The case for a full-time sustainability lead can be made by tracking positive outcomes and cost savings, increasing staff engagement, and improving safety. 


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