Hospitals are at the center of the health care system. Not only do they provide essential health services, but they play a critical role in supporting the wellbeing of the community. So, as the link between human health and planetary health is inextricably clear, hospitals have a responsibility to take direct action to reduce its environmental impact.
The Canadian health care system contributes to 4.6% of Canada’s GHG emissions, with hospitals and other medical facilities being some of the largest contributors (1). Since Canada’s health care per capita spending per person is in the top quartile internationally, at CA$6,448, the efficient operation and maintenance of hospitals is a key priority for Canada (2). There are several ways health care workers can make an impact, including improvements to facility infrastructure, switching to plant rich menus, procuring sustainable items, re-thinking transportation, reducing polypharmacy, and the implementation of efficient, environmentally-friendly best practices which are critical to reducing the environmental and financial costs of the health sector.
The Green Hospital Scorecard (GHS) is the only comprehensive health care environmental performance benchmarking tool in Canada measuring energy conservation, water conservation, waste management and recycling, corporate commitment and pollution prevention.
Learn more about the Green Hospital Scorecard program HERE.
This guidebook provides an overview of some of the key steps and actions that senior leaders can initiate and support for their hospital to move towards a climate-resilient, carbon net-zero, and environmentally sustainable health system.
A green team consists of a group of employees who are engaged in advancing and encouraging sustainability within an organization. Green teams focus on an organization’s operations and on educating employees about sustainability.
Green teams are important for hospitals because they can provide a centralized effort and remove the burden from a certain individual or department.
View the project webpage HERE.
In 2011, the Live Green Toronto ChemTRAC Toxics Reduction Grant, supported the Coalition in increasing the number of safer chemical products used within health care facilities and the number of small businesses in Toronto who sell products and services with safer chemicals, with a specific emphasis on ChemTRAC chemicals.
The project initially engaged the University Health Network, followed by other Toronto health care institutions, with education and promotion of toxics reduction occurring throughout the city of Toronto to reach workers and business owners. A ‘Safer Chemical Policy Alliance’ was also developed to help promote this messaging and will include like-minded organizations as leaders and successful supporters of safer chemicals policies.
Read the Case Study: ChemTRAC Proves to be a Catalyst for Change
View the Toxic 25 Poster.
Funded by Environment and Climate Change Canada – EcoAction Community Funding Program, this two-year clean water initiative aimed to reduce toxic and hazardous waste generated by health care facility operations through the identification, implementation, and evaluation of innovative, toxics-free technologies and chemical use strategies.
Collaborators sought to reduce toxic and other hazardous waste by replacing chemical agents with safer alternatives and implementing systems that reduce or eliminate the need for chemical use.
Project activities included engaging technical partners to provide innovative technological systems and information on toxics-reduced chemicals for health care; engage partner facilities willing to implement (pilot) new systems and strategies; establish baselines of chemical purchasing, chemical use, and hazardous waste generation at pilot facilities; develop a standardized evaluation procedure; develop best practices and case studies of pilot projects; and perform communications/awareness activities to distribute pilot findings and recommendations to national health care community.
- Effects of Automated UV Disinfection Device on Microbial Loads on Surfaces and in the Air in a Chatham-Kent Health Alliance Washroom
- Aqueous Ozone Cleaning System Assessment at Vancouver Coastal Health
- Assessing Aqueous Ozone for Cleaning Floors at St. Martha’s Regional Hospital
- French version
- April 27th, 2018 - Safer Chemicals Project webinar
- May 8th, 2018 - Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals Webinar - English
- View the slides HERE
- May 8th, 2018 - Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals Webinar - French
- View the slides HERE
- BC Lower Mainland GreenCare
- Chatham-Kent Health Alliance
- Synergie Santé Environnement
- Coalition for Healthcare Acquired Infection Reduction
- Class 1 Inc.
- Crothall Healthcare
- Tersano Inc.
Visit our resource page for more information: https://greenhealthcare.ca/reducetoxics/
Synthetic fragrances are largely made up of man-made substances manufactured from petrochemicals. They are used as additives in thousands of products including perfumes, soaps, detergents, and cleaners. Fragrance is not a single ingredient, but rather a term used to summarize a subset of chemical ingredients that together create appealing aromas. What is not appealing is that many of the chemicals used to create fragrances are toxic.
Chemical analysis of fragrances has revealed that some ingredients are potentially hazardous as they contain substances known from occupational and animal studies to be carcinogens, developmental toxins, or neurotoxicants at higher exposure levels.
It is important for health care facilities to be cognizant of the potential short and long term fragrance health impacts, and for indoor environments of health care facilities to be as free from hazardous substances as possible for the sake of patients, visitors, and staff.
From July 2009 - August 2010, with funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, YMCA Youth EcoInternship Program, the Coalition and partners developed a Fragrance Free Implementation Kit outlining the steps health care facilities can take to implement fragrance/scent-free programs and policies for patients, visitors and staff.
The kit also includes stories of successful implementation programs and details how to increase awareness of Fragrance Free initiatives at your facility.
- Fragrance Free Implementation Kit for Health Care Facilities.
- Presentations for Management (ppt) and Staff Orientation (ppt).
- Please note: These presentations may be used by other organizations as long as the following recognition is included: “Provided by the Environmental Health Clinic at Women’s College Hospital”.
- Fragrance Free Poster.
- Please note: An adaptation of the Fragrance-Free poster may be designed and used in your facility, however, for permission to use this fragrance free policy, please contact Strategic Communications at Women’s College Hospital: email@example.com.
- Health Care: Women’s College Hospital (Nancy Bradshaw, Community Outreach Coordinator, Ontario Environmental Health Clinic)
Environmental Health Institute (Dr. Lynn Marshall, President and Chair of the Board of the Environmental Health Institute of Canada, Member of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, and a Staff Physician at the Ontario Environmental Health Clinic, Women’s College Hospital, Toronto)
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Research has shown that the healthcare sector is among the least green sectors and constitutes one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, posing risks to human health. This review discusses the development of a knowledge translation tool that aims to compare a range of interventions that can be applied in hospital settings to reduce the local GHG emissions and associated financial costs. It discusses several interventions that potentially have the most impact on GHG reduction and compares these to interventions that are commonly used in different hospital departments. The authors propose opportunities to advance the implementation of these interventions within hospital operations across many other geographic locations. Read the full article HERE.
Products and services containing toxic substances are used in many health care environments on a daily basis for sanitation, basic aesthetics, or medical purposes. Education on the harm these substances can cause, as well as their sources and healthier alternatives, is needed by health care providers to better equip them with the decision-making power to choose products and services that protect the health of their patients, workers, and the broader community.
Learn more about reducing toxic and hazardous waste in health care HERE.
Canada is widely seen as a nation rich in water resources, accounting for 8% of the world's renewable freshwater resources. A comparison of total annual water renewal rates vs. total annual demand puts Canada in the top tier of countries whose gross renewable supplies far exceed its water-use demands. The perception of abundance masks other realities concerning the availability of these resources and discounts the significance of the mounting list of situations where sustainable-use concerns exist at the local and regional levels.
Hospitals are often the largest water users in a community. Inefficient and non-productive uses of water continue to drive avoidable expenditures and debt accumulation for the construction, expansion, operation and rehabilitation of municipal and private water infrastructure. They also result in excessive energy consumption and contribute to the inefficient use of other resources.
Much of Canada's water wealth is situated in areas far removed from the point of need thereby limiting its availability and potential for development. The cumulative demand for water results in competition for locally available supplies and threatens aquatic ecosystems and environmental health. Climate change predictions show that many parts of the country are likely to experience increasing risks from reduced water availability and increased water demand.
There are 40 million Canadians creating garbage. In 2022, the average Canadian produced 706 kg of waste per person (1). Hospitals produce a significant amount of waste from different sources including biomedical, food, and more. Sustainable waste management demands that we be financially responsible in how we deal with our waste while doing so in a socially-acceptable and environmentally-sound manner.
Learn more about waste management and reduction HERE.
Coalition Hospital Members and Partners
Hospitals and Long-term care facilities
- St.Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton
- Collingwood General and Marine Hospital
- University Health Network
- Bluewater Health
- Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
- Hôpital Notre-Dame Hospital (Hearst)
- Quinte Health Care
- Kingston Health Sciences Centre
- The Hospital for Sick Children
- Women's College Hospital
- St. Mary's General Hospital
- Baycrest Hospital
- Meighen Health Centre
Provincial Health/Multi-Site Organisations and Health Regions
- Alberta Health Services
- Fraser Health
- Eastern Health
- Vancouver Coastal Health
- Vancouver Island Health Authority
- Provincial Health Services Authority
- Covenant Health
- Providence Health Care
- Unity Health Toronto
- Bayshore Healthcare
If your health care facility wants to be a part of the green health care community, become a member of the Coalition today and gain access to resources, networks and consultation to help your journey to sustainability.