Develop an Organizational Environmental Principles Statement
All PIM content was independently developed and reviewed to be vendor-, product-, and service provider-neutral.
A sustainability statement, or charter, endorsed by facility leadership outlines guiding principles and commitments for sustainability program management. The statement can include specific commitments to environmental considerations (e.g., commitments to clean water and air), specific programs (e.g., energy reduction, water conservation, waste minimization, source reduction, or chemical reduction programs), and/or target goals to reduce use of energy, water, and chemicals and to increase reuse and recycling rates.
Project Talking Points
- Leadership commitment sets the tone for organizational readiness and makes the difference between simply having an “initiative” and having a commitment to environmental stewardship.
- The most successful health care sustainability programs have significant support from health care leadership and some level of dedicated resources to coordinate program goals into actionable improvements.
- A Green Team can help create this statement, ensuring that the ideas presented are both feasible and practical, but there is no reason to start from scratch as many organizations have shared their statements, which others can use as a template (see examples in the Roadmap Resources section).
- In 2010, 83 percent of Practice Greenhealth award winners had representation from senior leadership on their green teams. Top-performing Practice Greenhealth award winners demonstrate increased cost savings and improved environmental outcomes.
- Documented leadership support for sustainability principles helps assure the commitment will be articulated to all levels of management. A formal statement will also persist through leadership changes or staff turnover.
- For staff responsible for implementing sustainability initiatives, being able to refer to an endorsed document makes their efforts official and sets clear communication of sustainability as an important area of focus.
- C-suite leaders are unlikely to have time to engage in the details of energy, water, waste, or climate mitigation implementation strategies, but they are positioned to drive an organization's actions by setting and committing to a supportive statement of sustainability goals.
- An environmental principles statement can help an organization articulate the strategic value of supporting sustainability across the organization and the synergies between sustainability and organizational priorities such as community benefit, safety, quality, etc.
- A growing recognition that sustainability is inextricably linked to human health has motivated many health care organizations to begin integrating sustainability into organizational strategy.
Triple Bottom Line Benefits
- Cost benefits: Although cost savings are not directly related to an environmental principles statement, indirect savings will be realized through support and implementation of sustainability projects, which by definition, must have a reasonable financial benefit or at least be viable.
- Environmental benefits: Benefits will be realized indirectly when leadership support has been established and environmental programs receive increased attention.
- Social benefits: An environmental principles statement demonstrates leadership support and helps integrate sustainability into the cultural fabric of the organization.
- Quality and outcomes - Metrics are in development. If you have suggestions, please contact us or participate in the discussion below.
If you have suggestions for purchasing considerations, or suggested sample contract language for any product or contracted service, please participate in the discussion below.
1. Research commitment statements to get a sense of what your environmental principles statement will look like. A few sample statements are linked here: Boulder Community Hospital, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Spectrum Health, Presence St. Joseph Hospital and St. Mary's Medical Center.
2. Work with your Green Team, communications team, and community benefit team to draft a statement that reflects your organization's motivations for change (the reasons behind the commitments), the results the organization hopes to achieve, and the activities to which it has committed to reach those goals.
3. Review and finalize the statement with leadership. Have the CEO and board chairperson endorse (sign) the statement.
4. Host an internal proclamation event for all staff to attend. Have the CEO and/or leadership team express their commitment to sustainability and read the environmental principles statement aloud. Consider developing a banner-size environmental principles statement that all staff can sign. Contact your local paper and/or news station to attend the event.
5. Publicly proclaim your organization's environmental commitments by reaching out to local, regional, and national media outlets.
6. Consider having the statement printed and framed for posting in key areas of the facility. If a banner-size statement was created and signed by staff, consider having that on display.
If you have an ROI tool, calculator, or similar resources to share, please contact us or participate in the discussion below.
Sample environmental principles statements:
- Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center
- Boulder Community Hospital
- Spectrum Health
- St. Mary's Medical Center
- Northern Michigan Regional Hospital’s Environmental Responsibility Statement
- Presence St. Joseph Hospital
Contact us to share your organization's statement.
Regulations, Codes and Standards, Policies
Although not required by any regulatory bodies, an environmental principles statement helps articulate an organization's sustainability commitment and processes to regulatory inspectors.
Cross References: GGHC
Integrated Design Prerequisite 2: Health Mission Statement and Program
If you have any information or resources to contribute, please contact us or participate in the discussion below.
- Practice Greenhealth – Leadership and Infrastructure resources
- UCSF Sustainability Website -- a sample of communicating your programs to the community
- Sample full sustainability reports published by hospitals:
- Drivers and Motivators for Sustainability. This section of the Roadmap focuses on leadership drivers
- Getting Leadership Support on the AHA Sustainability Roadmap website.
- Building Teams - A guide to creating executive sustainability council, green teams, value analysis teams, energy management teams, and department sustainability coordinators.
Energy, Supply Chain, Waste, Water
- Strategic Operations
- Policy - Strategic/Compliance
- Comment, and please add information, tools, or additional resources you think should be added to the PIM.
- Write a case study or a PIM to contribute to the Roadmap (links are to instructions).