UI Health Receives Practice Greenhealth Emerald Award

Friday, July 24, 2020

Congratulations to the UI Health Green Team for receiving the prestigious Practice Greenhealth Emerald Award, which recognizes outstanding hospitals from within the Partner for Change applications. This is the second consecutive year they have received this honor.

Sustainability is at the heart of our healing mission — and we're proud to share that our sustainability strategies have won us a national recognition.

UI Health received the Emerald Award from Practice Greenhealth, the nation's leading organization dedicated to environmental sustainability in health care.

This competitive award recognizes the top 20% of applicants and is focused on advanced sustainability programs and exemplary scores in a range of categories.

The UI Health Green Team has been working on many initiatives throughout the past year to promote sustainability and environmental stewardship by increasing our hospital recycling rate, decreasing food waste, and engaging and educating staff.

To improve our environmental impact, the Green Team and Cafeteria Services eliminated plastic containers and plastic straws. Additionally, to improve the health of our community, chips and soda are no longer included with the purchase of a sandwich, but instead, the cost of fruit and the salad bar was subsidized to increase access to healthy food options. UI Health also participates in the Food Recovery Program, which captures the surplus of perishable food from the hospital kitchen and donates it to the Franciscan House, the second largest homeless shelter in Chicago.

Since our hospital was built in the 1970s, there have been several iterations of data cabling. Each floor has cable trays that carry this cable up the rooms. Once we eliminated the use of phones, the cables remained. However, due to the Electronic Medical Record conversion to Epic, it was time to clean up all the non-utilized cable within the cable trays. This led UI Health to recycle 11,768 pounds of abandoned cables.

"In a shifting healthcare landscape, a focus on sustainability can help build resilience while better protecting the health of patients and the community," said Gary Cohen, founder of Practice Greenhealth. "UI Health demonstrates the kind of leadership, innovation, and performance that can drive the entire health sector toward more environmentally responsible practices."

Congratulations to all who made this remarkable achievement possible.