Sustainability & Healthcare

Sus & Healthcare

Selected PublicationsIncorporating Sustainability into Community-Based Healthcare Practice (Patrick et al. 2011)

Healthier Hospitals Initiative (Samet 2011)

Beyond the Bin: How Healthcare is Responding to the Sustainability Movement (Popely 2009)

Climate change and human health: Impacts, vulnerability, and public health (Haines et al. 2006)

Impact of regional climate change on human health (Patz et al. 2005)

Globalization and the Sustainability of Human Health (McMichael et al. 1999)

Other ResourcesHealthier Hospitals Initiative

Practice Greenhealth

Green Guide for Healthcare

Sustainability Roadmap for Hospitals

Hospitals Without Harm

There is a
strong relationship between human health and environmental health. From the air we breathe to the water we drink
and use, life here on Earth depends on the natural resources and the
environment around us. Sustainability is
the ability to meet our present needs without compromising future generations
to meet their own needs (Brundtland Commission 1987), and it has three
components: environmental conservation, social responsibility, and economic
development. By definition,
sustainability aims to promote healthy, viable, and equitable communities.

In the same
way the healthcare industry promotes healthy behaviors such as eating right and
exercising; it should encourage environmental stewardship since the health of
our environment affects public health. For example, many health issues are directly related to the quality of
our water and air. According to the
World Health Organization (WHO), about 1.3 million deaths occur each year as a
result of urban air pollution (reference). Furthermore, the healthcare industry is a
significant consumer of energy and water and generates considerable amounts of
waste. The industry has a responsibility
to adopt sustainable practices in order to efficiently use its resources and minimize
environmental impacts.

Topics for
healthcare professionals and leaders to consider include (see publications and resources for more information related to these topics):

  • Incorporating sustainable practices in hospitals
    and healthcare facilities that are good for people, good for our
    environment, and good for business.
  • Using sustainable design and development techniques
    in hospitals and healthcare facilities to promote healthier, safer, and more
    eco-friendly environments.
  • Growing global population and the production and
    demand of food.
  • Human health risks associated with climate change.