UW Health joins national Better Climate Challenge, starts new sustainability initiatives

UW Health East Madison Hospital
UW Health East Madison Hospital(UW Health)
Published: Apr. 23, 2022 at 4:40 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - To celebrate Earth Day, UW Health is participating in the nationwide Better Climate Challenge and sharing its latest innovations in sustainability.

UW Health recently became one of the first health systems in the country to join the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Climate Challenge. The Challenge commits to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% within 10 years. More than 90 organizations across the U.S. have joined the challenge.

“Our first step is to become as energy efficient as possible,” UW Health program director of Energy Management and Sustainability Mary Evers Statz said. “As a hospital, we are 24/7/365 but that makes us uniquely positioned to find ways to be fast and efficient without compromising patient care.”

One initiative will determine when and where lighting and mechanicals can be turned down, dimmed or turned off while not in use. Experts will also evaluate hospitals’ and clinics’ walls, roofs and windows to ensure they are well insulated and efficient.

UW Health is also working to implement renewable energy.

In the Eastpark Medical Center that will be built on the east side of Madison, energy efficiency was woven into the design.

“It’s really a systematic approach,” Statz said. “It’s a high bar, but I believe we can get there with the help of the Better Climate Challenge and our community partners.”

In addition to their energy efficiency goals, UW Health has also committed to significant waste reduction strategies through the health system’s pharmacies.

For example, UW Health recently switched to using 100% recyclable transport containers that include ice packs made with recyclable plastic and contain nitrogen-based gel which can be safely disposed of.

UW Health has also changed the type of plastic used for medication containers to a plastic that is recyclable, as recent international policy changes eliminated the ability to recycle the traditional orange pill bottles patients are used to seeing. This change will help prevent 240,000 pill bottles from going in the landfill each year.

“These switches will make a really impactful change in pharmaceutical waste at UW Health,” UW Health pharmacy manager James Langley said. “We’re so thrilled to take this step to become more sustainable.”

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