After roughly tripling its engagement level with hospitals on sustainability issues since its inception three years ago, the Healthier Hospitals Initiative (HHI) will continue on beyond its planned life cycle.

What started out as a three-year initiative has reached the end of its originally planned cycle and now will forge ahead as Healthier Hospitals, a free program of Practice Greenhealth, Jeffrey Brown, executive director, Reston, Va., announced at the recent CleanMed 2015 in Portland, Ore.

“It was tremendously successful,” Brown says of HHI. “It gave us the ability to engage more hospitals in sustainability work. We want it to live on beyond a finite initiative and so we are changing the name.”

The number of hospitals that participated in HHI by collecting data in at least one of six sustainability “challenge” areas increased from 350 in 2012 to 638 in 2013 to nearly 1,000 in 2014. The six areas include engaged leadership, healthful food, leaner energy, less waste, safer chemicals and smarter purchasing.

HHI’s mission was to help hospitals start or become more engaged in sustainability, in part, through the free help and guidance of 12 sponsoring health systems. Enrollees were required to maintain data in the challenge areas they chose to tackle.

Participating HHI hospitals also served as free resources for other health care systems launching a sustainability program, says John Messervy, AIA, chairman of the HHI steering committee, and corporate director of design and construction, Partners HealthCare, Boston. That same peer-to-peer system will remain in place in the Healthier Hospitals program.

“The idea is to encourage hospitals that are early in their sustainability journeys — and who are learning how to move into health[ful] foods, or learning how to reduce energy, or learning how to reduce their waste stream, or who are still building their leadership engagement around sustainability — [to learn] how to stay on track,” Messervy says about the Healthier Hospitals program.

According to the 2014 Milestone Report just released by HHI, here are highlights of the organization’s accomplishments over three years:

• Participating hospitals eliminated 73,600 metric tons of greenhouse gases through energy reduction.

• Since 2010, 457 hospitals diverted 446 thousand tons of material from landfills, achieving a recycling rate of 24 percent.

• One hundred sixty-one hospitals spent $6.8 million on green-certified cleaning agents out of $14.6 million spent, or 46 percent of the total.

• Since 2010, HHI enrollees diverted or recycled 83 percent of construction and demolition debris for recycling.

“HHI results show that a large segment of the health care sector can adopt sustainability measures and together we can have a huge impact on transforming practices,” Brown says.

Messervy says hospitals that participate in the Healthier Hospitals program can also join Practice Greenhealth, which offers additional customized resources and staff to help health care systems expand their sustainability programs.