Driving systemic improvements in environmental and human health via a green hospital movement

The health care sector has an enormous environmental footprint, generating more than two million tons of waste each year, much of it toxic, and nearly 10 percent of the country's carbon-dioxide emissions. Current health care practices harm the environment and can contribute to patient and health care worker poor health. Health Care Without Harm, a coalition of more than 450 organizations in 50 countries, advocates for eco-friendly changes to design, purchasing and operational practices that can dramatically improve health. Innovations that emerge when health care and the green movement intersect can have a transformative impact: ventilation systems are redesigned to reduce both energy use and hospital acquired infection rates; group purchasing power is used to push suppliers to offer green products that also improve patient and worker health and safety; a switch to "greener cleaners" results in reduced asthma and other respiratory conditions for workers. In one early success, the group found that a switch from PVC to synthetic rubber and other flooring not only eliminates off-gassing of toxic materials, but requires less toxic cleaning and maintenance and provides cushioning that can reduce worker fatigue and noise levels. This grant supports the creation of best practices, research into practical applications and the identification of necessary policy or code changes. "Of all the sectors of society who should understand this growing science, it should be the health care sector — they're in the healing business," said Gary Cohen, the project's director. "They have a responsibility to clean up their own house."

Grant Details

Amount Awarded $750,000.00

Awarded on: 2/13/2008

Time frame: 2/15/2008 - 2/14/2011

Grant Number: 61431


Health Care Without Harm

12355 Sunrise Valley Drive, Suite 680
Reston, 20191-3458


Gary H. Cohen
Project Director