The inaugural year of the VA Green Routine Awards drew a diverse field of nominations from California to New Hampshire, and Wisconsin to Florida. The entries demonstrate a widespread interest in improving the sustainability performance of VA facilities.
“Reducing our operational costs through sustainable practices means increasing our ability to serve our Veterans,” notes Jim Sullivan, director of the Office of Asset Enterprise Management. “In a larger sense, all of the nominees for the Green Routine Awards are winners, because they are helping us achieve that goal.”
Providing Department-level recognition to VA employees who have developed creative ways to instill and encourage green, sustainable practices at their workplace, the Green Routine Awards showcase the best of grassroots efforts undertaken outside of staff’s daily duties:
Paperless in Radiology: The Manchester VA Medical Center
Lisa Duda — Radiology Manager
Holly Conroy — PACS Administrator
Doreen Mitchell — Lead Technologist
The Manchester VA Medical Center’s radiology department began a project to eliminate the need to print a paper order each time an exam was requested. It took lots of coordination and training, but the department was able to successfully eliminate paper orders and move to an electronic system. This project provides cost-savings for VA on two levels: reducing waste generated by the paper orders and reducing energy consumption from the printer. This project has been promoted throughout the facility, and other departments are now looking at how they can reduce their paper waste and energy consumption as well.
Bike to Work Program: Milwaukee Regional Office
Steve Fraenzl — Public Contact Outreach Specialist
The Milwaukee Regional Office’s Bike to Work program reduces petroleum fuel use and pollution, and it encourages VA employees to be more environmentally-friendly and health-conscious in their commutes to and from work. The program, operational only during warm weather months, awards points for biking to work, which employees can spend on the use of a reserved parking space during the winter months or on alternative rewards such as a backpack or messenger bag. This low-cost program encourages employees to go green, eases the demand on parking facilities and can be duplicated at other VA facilities.
Food Waste Study: St. Cloud VA Medical Center
Brian Vetter — Clinical Dietitian
A 2009 St. Cloud VA Medical Center study of food waste at its facility discovered a staggering 3,313 pounds of food waste per week. The facility’s clinical dietitians created procedures to reduce the amount of food waste on residents’ trays, including making portion sizes smaller and reducing large batch preparations. After several months, a second-round food waste study showed that food waste dropped by 35% per week, or 1265 pounds. This project has resulted in a reduction of processed food waste and food packaging in our landfills, and direct cost-savings to the medical facility. The facility’s “Nutrition Green Team” continues to monitor food waste and improve operations at the facility.
Recycling Platinum Cardiac Catheter Tips: Buffalo VA Medical Center
Angela L. Oliveri — Medical Instrument Technician
Stephanie Miller — Medical Instrument Technician
Susan Pahl — Registered Nurse
Sandra Cottis — Registered Nurse
Kathryn Healy — Registered Nurse
The Buffalo VA Medical Center’s Cardiac Catheter Department has found a way to recycle the platinum found in catheter tips. After locating a company that can recycle the entire catheter, the project team created a reference list of acceptable catheters for the facility and oversees collection, cleaning, and disinfecting of the platinum tips. Money earned from the recycling of the platinum tips is placed into a fund that supports other recycling-related initiatives at the facility. Buffalo has been contacted by other VA medical centers requesting information about how to start catheter recycling programs at their facilities.
Learn about all the 2010 Green Routine Award nominations.