From Construction to Composting, Hospital Approaches Sustainability from Several Angles

Released: April 22, 2013

In recognition of Earth Day 2013, The Chester County Hospital and Health System has compiled a description of the various ways it has adopted green principles into the Hospital's life throughout the year.

Tower Project LEED Credits - With plans to open the first 24 private rooms of its Tower expansion project in July, the community will soon see the results of the Hospital's year-long construction effort. Among the architectural elements created by Ballinger are numerous sustainable concepts. Although the Hospital will not be pursuing LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for its Tower Project, it will achieve several LEED credits for the sustainability features for its design, construction and operation.

Features include:

  • Roof plans:
    • A vegetated roof will soon be installed on the low roof area by the new waiting rooms. It will reduce heat build-up from the roof below and provide green views for guests.
    • White roofing is installed on the flat roof to reduce the 'heat island' effect outside the building and reduce air-conditioning reliance inside the building.
  • Minimal land disturbance: More than 75% of the expansion sits over existing paved surface, limiting the disturbance to green space. No new impervious surface has been added, which positively affects water run-off.
  • Lighting: All light fixtures have a no-glare design to stop light from trespassing onto neighboring properties.
  • Water: Water-saving plumbing devices will reduce water use by at least 20%, accounting for a dramatic reduction in gallons of water used for toilet flushing and hand washing.
  • Energy: HVAC systems will be 20% more efficient than typical hospitals. Refrigerants will use minimal or no-ozone depleting chemicals.
  • Materials: An estimated 20% of materials have been manufactured within 500 miles of the Hospital, requiring less gas consumption and transportation emissions.
  • Recycling: Construction waste has been sorted to recycle as much as possible. Since the start of the project in January 2012, 90% of construction waste (approx. 270 tons) has been recycled. When possible, material with recycled content has been used in the project.
  • Air Quality: Air-monitoring equipment is being installed to make sure fresh air is circulated in the building. Paints, carpets and glues are low-VOC (volatile organic compounds). Indoor pollutants from janitor closets and bathrooms will be directly vented out of the Hospital. Each room will have individual lighting and heating controls.
  • Environment: A new tree will be planted on the property for each tree that was removed during construction. Large windows allowing natural light in patient rooms will foster the healing process.

Environmental Protection: Recycling, Composting and Medical Waste Reduction - In partnership with Stericycle, a medical waste management company, the Hospital is devoted to creating greater efficiency with the disposal of materials that leave the building. Our efforts for environmental protection include reducing the overall amount of medical waste produced as a result of patient care, plus single-stream recycling of plastic, metal and paper throughout the Hospital and its satellite facilities. Last November, the Hospital invited its employees to 'clean out their files' in recognition of National Recycling Day. In total, more than 4,700 lbs. of old documents were collected and shredded. In addition to the most commonly recycled items, the Hospital also recycles its waste oil, cell phones and printer cartridges. It repurposes and offers its fryer oil for area farmers, coffee grounds for local gardeners, cardboard boxes for packing, and plastic five-gallon buckets for personal use. In the upcoming months, the Hospital will also begin composting appropriate food waste produced by the nutrition services department.

Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Energy Efficiency - Over the past few years, The Chester County Hospital has enacted several ways to reduce the amount of energy it consumes and greenhouse gases it generates. These efforts support the Borough's desire to reduce greenhouse emissions and put West Chester on a track toward a more sustainable economic and environmental future.

Initiatives have included:

  • Changing from T8 to T5 fluorescent bulbs, which use half the energy.
  • Installing motion sensor for lighting in common areas and utility rooms.
  • Upgrading boiler controls for energy savings.
  • Upgrading chiller controls for energy savings.
  • Installing waterless medical air pump for water savings.
  • Installing variable frequency drives on equipment motors for energy efficiency.
  • Installing on-demand hot water heater for domestic water and laundry water for fuel cost savings.
  • Transitioning to environmentally friendly, health-care approved cleaning supplies.
  • Using rechargeable batteries on patient-related equipment.

Community Supported Agriculture -Throughout the year, the Employee Wellness committee organizes health education events and special opportunities to promote healthy lifestyles. For the past two years, the Hospital has invited Thornbury Farm to create a Farmer's Market on the Hospital campus for employees and guests to buy local fresh fruits, vegetables and other farm products during the summer. The Hospital has a strong commitment to prevention and wellness for the community and its own employees. In addition to promoting healthy eating, the relationship the Hospital is building with the local farming community supports agriculture and open spaces in Chester County. In the coming months, the Hospital will connect with other local farms to see if they would be interested in participating during the growing season too. It is also beginning a relationship with Common Market, a distributor of local food that will connect the Hospital with resources for good food grown by the region's sustainable farmers.;

Raised Bed Gardens - With the insight and assistance of the Chester County Food Bank, green-thumbed volunteers at the Hospital will be building, planting, tending and harvesting two raised bed gardens on its campus this May. The Chester County Food Bank is fighting hunger in our community with better nutrition - locally grown, fresh food from raised bed gardens. For the 70,000 people in Chester County who lack the funds to buy the food they need, fresh produce is now available to them through our local food cupboards. In 2009, the Food Bank started with just 25 beds at six sites. Today, it has 500 gardens at over 110 sites. In 2012, it grew more than 130,000 pounds of fresh produce that were distributed to the network of 30 cupboards and 61 meal sites. The Hospital's two gardens will produce healthy food to donate to the Food Bank as well as to be used in our own cafeteria.

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