Tenet Healthcare | Leadership in Sustainability Work Group

Hahnemann University Hospital


  • Diverted 590 tons of paper, cardboard, plastic, metals and other waste from municipal landfills
  • Employee education and awareness
  • Facility-wide food and nutrition awareness

The Problem

As a major healthcare facility, Hahnemann was presented with both a challenge and an opportunity to develop and implement sustainable designs, work practices, and operational procedures that can benefit the safety of the employees, patients, and community.

The operations of the facility presented Hahnemann with opportunities for improvement in energy and water use, chemical and hazardous materials use and waste disposal, infection control limitations, and municipal waste control. To assist in managing these opportunities, Hahnemann’s Environment of Care Committee formed the Leadership in Sustainability Work Group.

The Strategy Selected

The mission of the Leadership in Sustainability Work Group is “To protect and enhance individual and community health through environmental sustainability practices.”

This group of individuals meets to review current practices in the facility and explore opportunities to improve our sustainability.

The group is guided by three principles:

  • Protecting the immediate health of building occupants;
  • Protecting the health of the surrounding community; and
  • Protecting the health of the global community and natural resources.

Implementation Process

Recycling and reduction initiatives at the hospital have been very successful.  The work group develops annual goals and tracks progression against those goals. Initially, the focus was on energy conservation. Through the installation of new higher efficiency fixtures, motion detection light switches, and user awareness, Hahnemann has been able to consistently decrease electricity usage; reducing annual usage by more than 2 million kilowatt hours from 2006 to 2009.

In 2008, an efficient waterless air compressor was installed in the main hospital building. It is estimated that the new compressor has reduced water usage by approximately 10 million gallons of water per year and an electrical savings between $35,000 to $45,000 per year.

In 2010 the focus turned to waste management, Hahnemann diverted more than 590 tons of paper, cardboard, plastic, metals and other waste from municipal landfills.

The goal of the hospital’s waste management initiative was to ensure that 25 percent of its waste is recycled or diverted. That goal was met in 2011 and in 2012 the group hopes to achieve a 35 percent recycle or diversion rate.

In 2010, other key initiatives included:

  • Transitioning several departments to electronic medical records and implementing paperless meetings which resulted in a 25 percent reduction in paper usage.
  • Implementing water coolers in each department which eliminated bottled water and resulted in a 15 percent decrease in recyclables.
  • Installing a combination of CFL and LED lights in the basement of a parking garage, which saved approximately 70,000 kWh annually. A scheduled second phase will reduce consumption by an additional 550,000 kWh.
  • A continuing focus on decreasing year-over-year electricity usage through new energy efficient chillers, higher efficiency fixtures and motion-detection light switches.

Challenges and Lessons Learned

Employee awareness and education was identified as a key component to the success of the group.  To make sure employees were informed and engaged:

  • Signage at recycling stations were developed,
  • The sustainability initiatives were communicated and promoted at staff meetings and
  • A sustainability email account was created to answer questions and provide education as needed

In the area of waste management, in 2011, the group identified an opportunity to further reduce cardboard waste by having suppliers deliver using crates instead of cardboard boxes. The group is working with the hospital’s primary vendors and hopes to have all converted to crates in 2012.
Tracking of data to monitor the progress of the goals was identified as a challenge in 2011. A Waste Management database was created for several departments to track waste by type.

Also the hospital tracked kilowatt hours for 2011 and compared to 2010 activity. This provided a good baseline for developing a 2012 goal to reduce consumption by 3%.

Demographic information

Hahnemann University Hospital is a 496-bed academic medical center located in Philadelphia. The hospital is a tertiary care institution that specializes in cardiac services, heart failure and transplantation, OB/GYN, orthopedics, medical, surgical and radiation oncology, bone marrow transplantation, renal dialysis and kidney/pancreas/liver transplantation. In 2009, Hahnemann earned Magnet® designation by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Magnet Recognition Program®.  Hahnemann is recognized by the American Heart Association as a leader in coronary artery disease and heart failure treatments.   The hospital performed one of the city’s first kidney transplants in 1963 and one of the first bone marrow transplants in 1976.  Hahnemann became Philadelphia’s first Level I Regional Resource Trauma Center for adults in 1986, and since then has been served by MidAtlantic MedEvac, an aeromedical transport program for critically ill patients. Hahnemann is proud to be the first hospital in Philadelphia to join with The Wellness Community of Philadelphia to offer onsite support and education services to cancer patients and their families.  Hahnemann is fully accredited by the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, the nation’s oldest and largest hospital accreditation agency. An affiliate of Drexel University College of Medicine, Hahnemann University Hospital is part of Tenet Pennsylvania, which also includes St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children. To learn more about Hahnemann, visit www.hahnemannhospital.com.