Hospitals are striving for sustainability as they work to improve building performance and facility operations in ways that contribute to a healthier environment, bottom line and community. But finding practical ways to achieve these goals often referred to as the "triple bottom line," sometimes can be challenging because a one-size-fits-all approach does not work.

Some hospitals have followed sustainability prescriptions before, only to get frustrated when results don't match up with those promised. The key is to focus on solutions that have proven results.

That's why three personal membership groups of the American Hospital Association are working together to help hospitals on their journey toward sustainability. ASHE, the Association for the Healthcare Environment (AHE) and the Association for Healthcare Resources & Materials Management (AHRMM) are developing hands-on information specifically tailored for hospitals. This in-depth information will be useful to health care facilities whether they have worked on sustainability measures for years or are just getting started.

The primary resource developed by ASHE, AHE and AHRMM is a group of performance improvement measures (PIMs). These PIMs have been written at all levels, from basic to advanced. Some are quick, easy measures called Green Light projects that offer rapid results. While facilities already may have enacted these measures, they can benefit from more complex PIMs that require greater resources. No matter how complex or simple, all PIMs provide significant rewards.

For example, one Green Light PIM on energy use shows hospitals how to establish a baseline for current energy consumption an excellent project for hospitals looking for a starting point on sustainability. The PIM outlines talking points on the benefits of creating a baseline of energy consumption as well as the triple bottom-line benefits. This can be used to create presentations or draft a proposal to a supervisor. The PIM also outlines who should be on the project team. And it gives step-by-step instructions, how-to advice, tips on analyzing trends and information about creating an account with the Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star portfolio manager.

By giving detailed instructions and helpful tools, the PIMs make it easy for hospitals to implement these proven solutions. An online database soon will be released cataloging PIMs of all levels as part of the Sustainability Roadmap for Hospitals. The Roadmap website designed for anyone interested in sustainability issues in health care, including CEOs, sustainability managers, facility engineers, supply chain directors or nurses also includes other resources focused on energy, water, waste and supply chain sustainability. It can be found at

By Deanna Martin, senior communications specialist for ASHE.

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