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Sinai Health System is reducing environmental impact while improving patient care

Sinai Health System is reducing environmental impact while improving patient care

Tracey Clatworthy and Mark Reynolds, from Toronto’s Sinai Health System, talk about diverting unneeded hospital supplies overseas, halving water consumption, and creating a garden for patients, the birds and the bees. 

In our “Conversations with Green Champions,” Rolland President Philip Rundle speaks with sustainability-minded organizations about their approach to environmental responsibility. 

Tracey Clatworthy, Environmental Sustainability Coordinator and Mark Reynolds, Manager of Infrastructure and Sustainability for Toronto’s Sinai Health System, talk about diverting unneeded hospital supplies overseas, halving water consumption, and creating a garden for patients, the birds and the bees. 

Sinai Health System is made up of four organizations, with over 7,400 staff and 2,100 volunteers 

  • Mount Sinai Hospital, Joseph & Wolf Lebovic Health Complex, a 442-bed acute care hospital and academic health sciences centre.
  • Bridgepoint Active Healthcare, a 464-bed rehabilitation and complex care hospital. 
  • Circle of Care, a home care provider that serves more than 16,000 clients and families yearly. 
  • Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, one of the top 10 biomedical research institutes in the world. 

Sinai Health Foundation, the organization’s fundraising body, is very familiar with Rolland’s sustainability commitment.

What are Sinai Health System’s sustainability priorities?

Reducing our resource consumption and impact on the environment, especially our carbon footprint. The focus is waste diversion, energy and water conservation, and sustainable construction and procurement practices.  

Reducing utility consumption also saves dollars that can go back into patient care – the heart of our mission. We also strive to be a green healthcare leader, and set an example.  

Is the organization making significant progress toward reducing its environmental impact?

We received a silver designation for all our sites in 2017 from the Green Hospital Scorecard1 (Canada’s only comprehensive healthcare benchmarking tool) so we’re going in the right direction. And Mount Sinai Hospital campus won Ontario Green Healthcare Awards, for waste and water. Our communications about these achievements have piqued interest here, creating a desire to further improve.

What are some recent green improvements across Sinai Health System?

Over the last three years we have cut water consumption in half by moving from an open loop to a closed loop system. We’ve also increased waste diversion from 30 to 45 per cent, by increasing recycling, repurposing and donations. Here are some examples:

  • Diverting 45,000 pounds of electronic waste from landfill by having collection boxes for our obsolete technology, which is trucked away then repurposed.  
  • Donating office supplies, furniture and even medical supplies no longer needed here, due to major hospital upgrades, to developing countries overseas.  
  • Creating an on-line swap board so staff needing furniture or supplies like printer cartridges can find them easily – and in addition to reducing landfill this reduces costs.

How do you maintain a sustainable infrastructure, with two large hospitals? 

Anything new is designed and built to minimize energy use, taking into account life cycle costs, and must be integrated with central systems for heating, cooling, electricity and lighting. Contractors must meet environmental standards for materials and disposal.

With upgrades like the ongoing redevelopment of Mount Sinai Hospital – a building that is 49 years old –  we take every opportunity to install environmentally-friendly windows, doors, roofing and flooring. Existing systems are either retrofitted or optimized to improve efficiencies, or replaced with advanced green technology.  

Will redevelopment reduce Mount Sinai Hospital’s utility costs?

Definitely. Over five years lighting will be converted to LEDs, heating and cooling systems will incorporate heat recovery technology, and all systems will be programmed to reduce or eliminate utility consumption in unoccupied areas.  Again, lower costs ultimately make for better patient care.

How do you encourage suppliers to act responsibly? 

The starting point is our standard sustainable procurement documentation, included in all RFP’s and agreements. We ask suppliers if they are ISO 140012 or LEED3 certified, and for summaries of their environmental initiatives.

What is the role of the Green Sinai Health Committee?

It brings together 30 people from various departments across both hospital campuses to push forward initiatives that support the sustainability priorities I mentioned earlier. We brainstorm solutions, like the overseas donation program. And we work on employee engagement, through outreach events like Smart Commute Month that encourage green ways to get to work.

How do you create a sense of environmental responsibility across 7,400 staff?

We believe simple actions can make a difference, so we encourage staff to repurpose, recycle or donate anything the hospitals no longer need. To further spread the word across all our sites, e-learning educational programs and road shows will be implemented in the next year. 

At Mount Sinai Hospital campus, staff are asked to sign a Green Pledge to power-down computers, unplug electronics and equipment, and turn off lights in empty rooms.  With 4,700 computers across the system, you can imagine the potential impact if everyone does the same! 

Can environmental initiatives also promote healing?

We created a garden that promotes healing for patients and learning for children, next to Mount Sinai Hospital, called Monarch Health Matters, in McCaul-Orde Parkette. It’s a pollinator garden with plants that attract butterflies, bees and birds; signage will soon describe the various species. Studies show patients heal faster when they have access to green spaces, which reduce stress and anxiety.  It’s good for families, too!  And our Bridgepoint campus is filled with green spaces – including a garden on the tenth floor of the hospital – where patients and community members can enjoy the therapeutic benefits of the outdoors. 

How does Rolland contribute to your sustainability commitment?

Sinai Health System looked at using uncoated paper because it has a different look and feel, and we wanted it to be eco-friendly. In the spring of 2016 we launched our rebranded donor magazine, Sinai Health, printed on Rolland Opaque (30 per cent post-consumer content). We also used Rolland Enviro Satin (100 per cent post-consumer content) in the past.

We feel good using Rolland paper knowing it has low environmental impact – and it holds ink well, maintaining colour quality. 

Do you see Sinai Health System as a green champion?  

Yes, because staff members are motived to do the right thing to improve our environment, and our organization is taking concrete actions to reduce our footprint.

1The Green Hospital scorecard measures energy conservation, water conservation, waste management and recycling, corporate commitment and pollution prevention. 

2ISO 14001 is a globally recognized management system standard that helps organizations minimize environmental impacts and comply with applicable laws.

3LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the most widely used green building rating system worldwide, available for virtually all types of buildings.

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