Interior Health was named the Energy & Environmental Stewardship Award recipient for 2011 from the Canadian College of Health Leaders at the group’s convention in Whistler last week.
“Interior Health is a great example of an agency taking action now to prepare for a changing climate and its impacts,” said Minister of Health Michael de Jong.
The CCHL award recognizes a progressive health care organization that has implemented programs that demonstrate environmental responsibility through the reduction of energy usage, the preservation of natural resources and effective waste diversion solutions.
“Health care has an explicit ethical duty to “do no harm,” said Dr. Robert Halpenny, CEO of Interior Health.
“That is why it is vital that we model sustainable behaviour within our communities and take a leadership role in environmental initiatives.”
Interior Health started on its environmental sustainability journey in 2002, before it was popular to do so.
Considered risky at the time, today Interior Health is a pioneer among provincial health-care organizations and leads many of the provincial green initiatives. For example, Interior Health started purchasing hybrid fleet vehicles in 2002. In 2009 the B.C. government mandated that all public sector organizations purchase only hybrids for their fleet. Today Interior Health has 60 hybrids within its fleet.
“Interior Health’s environmental actions have positive impacts on our communities, our environment and make good financial sense. When we save dollars in energy costs, it allows for reallocation of funds towards patient care,” said Halpenny.
Other successful environmental initiatives include:
• tele-medicine, which has resulted in a reduction in surgeon and patient trips that add up to over 2,500,000 kilometres of driving over two years, saving over 702 tonnes of CO2
• an electronic performance management system that saves approximately 55,000 sheets of paper each year—equal to a pile of paper that reaches the height of a commercial jet traveling at about 40,000 feet
• installing solar thermal panels to heat Domestic Hot Water (DHW), an initiative that will reduce GHG emissions by over 57 tonnes.
The CCHL award includes a $2,000 cash prize. The IH Green Team has chosen to donate the cash prize to the The Fresh Outlook Foundation, a non-profit organization that applies proven and practical community-based social marketing strategies in the development and delivery of programs that enable and encourage sustainable behaviors in people’s homes and workplaces in B.C.