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The Healthcare-Climate Change Connection

Holy Name’s ‘Green’ Efforts are Environmentally Friendly

Posted by David Van Bever, Director of Environmental and Transport Services, Holy Name Medical Center on April 15, 2019

David Van Bever, Director of Environmental and Transport Services, Holy Name Medical Center

In addition to providing high-quality healthcare services, Holy Name Medical Center is becoming more environmentally friendly throughout its main campus in Teaneck and at other medical center locations.

Hospitals are one of many types of organizations linked to substantial greenhouse gas emissions because of their tremendous consumption of energy, disposal of medical supplies, and waste of food. Scientists say these emissions contribute to climate change, which poses a greater risk of natural disasters. Natural calamities can easily trigger public health crises, such as the spread of infectious diseases.

Holy Name has been consciously making decisions to increase its “green” efforts and has won several awards, including the Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey’s 2019 “Companies that Care Award” and its 2019 “Environmental Medal” for recycling and environmental initiatives.

Such an immense effort takes a tremendous team. At Holy Name, this team is led by Steven Mosser, Vice President of Facilities Management, who oversees all aspects of creating a sustainable operation, and the medical center’s Land Ethic Committee.

Steven, along with David Van Bever, Director of Environmental and Transport Services; Melissa Candela, Construction Manager/Interior Designer; Steve Bennett, Director of Facilities; and Cyril Coffey, Director of Client Services, Information Technology, discuss ways the medical center is cutting its carbon footprint and what you, too, can do at home to help planet Earth.

“We all have a responsibility to care for our environment, but here at Holy Name, it is fundamental because we opened under the leadership of Mother General Agatha Brown of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace in 1925,” says Steven. “One of the foundational principles of the Sisters of St. Joseph is that the Earth is sacred. As such, we take the responsibility of caring for it very much to heart.”

The Sisters wrote: “For too long we have thought of land as a commodity whose value is determined by its usefulness to humans. Our decision-making now must put the sustainability of ecosystems before financial profit.” This statement is now the credo of the Land Ethic Committee.

How Holy Name is Living Up to this Statement:

  • Throughout the past five years, Holy Name has reduced its carbon dioxide emissions and, ultimately, its carbon footprint by an incredible 28,700 tons.
  • According to the Environmental Protection Agency, this is the equivalent of planting 736,000 new tree seedlings, taking 5,500 cars off the road, and preserving 6,000 acres of pine trees.

“Our Environmental Services team and Land Ethic Committee task force lead our numerous eco-friendly, sustainable green initiatives to improve patients’ lives, reduce costs, and improve local and global communities for the future,” says Melissa.

How Did We Do It?

  • 34% of our total medical waste is recycled (the national average is 24%).
  • We only purchase paint, flooring, and furniture that are manufactured with lower chemical emissions to provide better indoor air quality.
  • 100% of the paper in our recycling and shredding bins is recycled.
  • All our batteries and fluorescent bulbs are recycled.
  • We cook and serve food that is sourced ethically, produced locally, and raised humanely, including free-range chickens and eggs, meat, seafood, produce, and fair trade coffee.
  • There is no mercury, which is highly toxic, on our campus.
  • Our air conditioning units were retrofitted with new motors, reducing electricity consumption.
  • We repurpose safe, functioning equipment to our sister hospital in Haiti when we upgrade technology.

“This is such a wonderful program that helps us while helping the people of Haiti,” says David. “Several times a year, we send shipping containers filled with food, clothing, supplies, even toys to Hôpital Sacré Coeur. We're not just helping our local community, we're also making a positive impact on a global level.”

What about E-Waste?

According to the non-profit organization Urban Renewal Corp. in Newark, 70% of all toxins in municipal waste come from electronic waste. At Holy Name, all unusable and aging IT hardware items are decommissioned so that the drives can be removed and destroyed in-house. This equipment is then loaded onto pallets and shrink-wrapped so it is ready for pickup by Urban Renewal Corp. once every three months.

“All proceeds from Urban Renewal’s recycling and refurbishing efforts are then used to help fund programs for the homeless and economically disadvantaged,” says Cyril.

What Else Can We Do?

  • We are working toward transitioning 95% of our campus to LED lighting, thus reducing the cost of lighting by 70%.
  • We are expanding our recycling of cans and bottles.
  • We are evaluating the reduction of Styrofoam, which is made with hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) that can negatively impact the ozone layer.
  • We are considering installing solar panels and green roofs on new projects.
  • We are planning a roof garden complete with bees.

What Can You Do at Home?

  • Walk more, drive less.
  • Take public transportation.
  • Love your leftovers.
  • Use a reusable travel mug.
  • Bring your own bags to the grocery store.
  • Turn the lights off and switch to LED lighting.

“Not only will you help the environment, but you'll also save money,” says Steve.

For more information on how Holy Name measures up when it comes to recycling, please enjoy the following videos: