The terms "sustainability" and "going green" have become part of our daily lexicon. We constantly use them and look for ways to apply them to our personal and professional lives. Given this buzz, you would think sustainability is a new term in our collective consciousness, but it's not.

In 1987 the World Commission on Environment and Development defined sustainability as "the ability to meet present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs." That definition seems about right. But applying this fundamental concept of sustainability to a modern, busy hospital can be confusing, frustrating and overwhelming.

There is way too much spin, hype and misinformation about environmental successes. Many ASHE members have reported following one sustainability prescription or another only to find that the promised benefits never materialized, leading to disillusionment. As a membership organization, our goal is to offer the resources that will help our members focus on practical measures that can produce real and tangible benefits for their hospitals.

Although ASHE has been involved in the sustainability issues of energy efficiency, renewable planning, design and construction for many years, the time has come to take a more comprehensive and unified approach — comprehensive by organizing all our materials into one location, and unified by partnering with the American Hospital Association personal membership groups for hospital environmental services managers and for materials and supply chain managers.

Together we have created the Web-based Sustainability Roadmap for Hospitals ( Just as a roadmap does not tell where to go but provides information to help choose a route, the Sustainability Roadmap is designed to help health care organizations map out their journeys on the road to sustainability and is organized from general information on relevant topics to specific measures for improving their facilities' environmental performance.

The information available under the Roadmap's tabs, from general to specific, includes the following:

Topics. An overview of topic areas, including building design and construction, energy and emissions, water and effluent, and materials and waste;

Drivers. Considerations to think about when developing a hospital sustainability plan;

Strategies. A guide and set of tools for strategic planning;

Implementation. A clearinghouse of strategies to help facility professionals develop their action plans; and

Resources. A section providing talking points, a resource library and case studies as well as a glossary and list of acronyms.

The Sustainability Roadmap for Hospitals is designed to help health facility professionals chart a course that responds to their organization's drivers and set targets and action plans that work for their facilities. It's the perfect place for health facility professionals to get started on their own sustainability journey.

Sidebar - INSIGHT

Resources available

ASHE offers a number of valuable resources at special prices to professionals in the health care industry.

They include the following:

  • Guidelines for Design and Construction of Health Care Facilities. The 2010 guidelines cover minimum program, space and design needs for all clinical and support areas of hospitals, nursing facilities, freestanding psychiatric facilities, outpatient and rehabilitation facilities, and long-term care facilities. It also includes new material on acoustics, patient handling and movement, patient safety, bariatric patient care, cancer treatment and emergency services.
  • Health Facility Commissioning Guidelines. Written by health care professionals, this resource helps optimize construction or renovation delivery. It enables project teams to deliver cost-effective and efficient health care facilities that yield the desired return on investment. The guidelines can help ensure a suc­cessful transition from construction completion to a sustainable, high-performance operation.

For information on purchasing either of these valuable references, click here.