The story of the Sambhavna Clinic, a non-profit holistic health clinic in Bhopal, India, built to treat those injured by the Union Carbide toxic gas release in 1984. enlarge video
Authors: Tonya Boone, Ph.D.
April 1, 2012. 32 pages.
Sustainability seeks to balance and simultaneously optimize environmental, social and financial concerns. Sustainability in healthcare represents a particularly challenging undertaking as it necessarily encompasses the wide variety of facilities, operations and activities in a typical healthcare organization. This exploratory study examines the organizational approaches of eight healthcare systems with relatively successful sustainability initiatives.
The organizations studied have embraced sustainability as a core organizational value, and consequently have committed significant resources and personnel to support their sustainability efforts. Nonetheless, they have realized significant financial benefits from the efforts. Environmental resource management — especially energy and waste — serves as the initial and often central focus of many sustainability initiatives. Improving energy efficiency is associated with reduced operating costs, as is increasing recycling and more carefully managing all waste streams. Managing energy and waste more sustainably was, for these health care organizations, critical for building organizational capabilities that could be applied to other areas, such as environmentally responsible purchasing and food management. Most of the organizations created new positions or hired new people to help manage and coordinate the sustainability initiatives. The sustainability coordinators are charged with identifying focus areas, developing sustainability-related goals, tracking performance, integrating environmental and social concerns into organizational processes, identifying significant external resources and helping to build important sustainability-related organizational capabilities.