Healthcare Sustainability Blog Series

Part 2 of 4: Planning

Nicole Chardoul
RRS Vice President

Part 1 of this blog series discussed your sustainability program assessment. Now that you have identified your accomplishments, as well as any areas of improvements, how do you take it to the next step? Planning your sustainability program, or revising your sustainability goals if you already have them established, is sometimes the hardest part of any sustainability program after the assessment.

As you recall, the program assessment is your information gathering and benchmarking step. Once you have data, you can establish new or revise past goals and key sustainability indicators to plan for future years.

This stage of planning should involve a multi-disciplinary team of experts, often referred to as a green team, that can assist with setting goals that are realistic and achievable in the various identified areas. For example, let’s imagine your regulated medical waste (RMW) volumes are higher than national averages. You want to set a goal to reduce RMW to not only save costs, but to also increase recycling and the use of reusable products. You will want a champion from the operating room (the largest generator of RMW) on your team to lead these efforts.  Or, imagine your energy costs are high, you should involve someone from facilities who manages your energy usage, reviews energy statements, and understands what will effect change and make improvements.

Once you have a green team established, you work together to identify priorities, develop key indicators, and use data to calculate the return on investment of each goal and priority.  You will want to be sure to balance your core sustainability goals around compliance, cost, and environment.  If cost is off-balance, maybe you can explore funding opportunities, for example, to finance changing out fluorescents to LEDs throughout your facility. Or, if compliance around sharps injuries is a priority, then take a page from other hospitals and look at safer reusable sharps containers that may reduce injuries and reduce plastic going to the landfill.

The data and information gathered in the assessment and planning steps of a program set the stage and build the support and resources needed for the next step, which is implementation.

Be patient with the planning as it can take time, especially with a new program. Use resources and benchmarks that are already out there to set goals, priorities, measurement indicators, and timelines. Before you know it, you will be implementing your programs!

Next in the Healthcare Sustainability blog series: Implementation.

Did you miss Part 1? Check it out here: Assessment