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Vision and Voice

Driving Sustainable Healthcare

Having just celebrated Earth Day on Monday, April 22, the importance of environmental conservation is top of mind. This special day of awareness encourages us to take action together for a healthier planet and healthier people. From minimizing waste to embracing renewable energy, our teams at UVA Health University Medical Center are interested in and committed to practicing sustainable healthcare.

Despite the complexities of being a round-the-clock and heavily regulated large academic medical center, we have found great tools and resources to drive sustainable change. UVA Health University Medical Center is a proud member of Practice Greenhealth, the leading membership and networking organization for sustainable healthcare. UVA Health team members can set up a free Practice Greenhealth account to access resources and peer networking opportunities.

The results of our operational sustainability efforts alongside all of UVA speak volumes:

  • UVA has reduced waste generated on Grounds by almost 52% from 2010 levels.  In 2022 alone, the University reused, composted, or recycled 24.4% of the waste generated.
  • Since 2010, UVA has reduced potable water consumption by 26.2%. In 2022, we consumed 424 million gallons of water, compared to 574 million gallons in 2010. 
  • Currently, UVA has we have 84 LEED-certified buildings — a globally used green building rating system.

Our commitment to sustainability hasn't gone unnoticed. In 2023, we were honored to receive Stryker's Sustainability Solutions Environmental Excellence Award, Platinum, for our waste diversion, collection growth and use of reprocessed devices. This award recognized our efforts to collect more than 9,700 pounds of SUDs for reprocessing while saving an estimated $730,000 via the use of reprocessed devices. Since 2018, we've diverted over 87,000 pounds of waste and saved over $4.9 million in the process!

But our journey doesn’t end there. We are continuously raising the bar through special programs that provide for:

  • Medically and environmentally safe disposal of unused or expired medications.
  • Sustainable food sourcing in our cafes and patient nutrition services (see page 28 of this report).
  • Improved access to nutritious food through partnerships with Local Food Hub’s Fresh Farmacy program and the Sustainable Food Collaborative.
  • Reuse of gently/never-used office supplies through ROSE (The Reusable Office Supply Exchange).

You can join our sustainability efforts this weekend during National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on April 27, where we offer a safe way to dispose of unwanted or unused prescription medications and sharps containers, no questions asked! Please help spread the word and drop off your items outside the Education Resource Center from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. or any day or time at one of our eight drop-off boxes.

At UVA Health University Medical Center, it is our mission to make improvements, big and small, to transform health and inspire hope for all Virginians and beyond — including taking care of our planet. Let’s work together to drive sustainable healthcare. You can share your ideas through the Be Heard Suggestion Box.

Thank you for reducing, recycling, and reusing not just on Earth Day, but every day.

Take care and be well,