Planning a family vacation for next summer, or maybe just a weekend getaway for you? If you are, keep in mind it doesn’t have to be overseas or out of state. It could be a vacation in the state you live in, or even in the nearby towns. It doesn’t need to be long either. The term “daycation” is becoming more popular. It’s when you take a vacation for a whole day, like to a state park or a nearby destination and return that same evening. Vacationing nearby not only saves you money, but it could be healthy for you as well. How? Consider planning a vacation where you and your family bike to nearby towns for a few days. Biking to your destination would not only benefit you physically, but it would also decrease your carbon footprint. This could also give you a good chance to bond with your family, or simply enjoy the outdoors.
In La Crosse, we have the River State Trail. It is a path that gives bikers access to nearby communitites and beautiful trails along the Mississippi River. Many families can utilize this trail to travel to different cities for the weekend that are close by. Biking isn’t the only “environmentall safe” way to travel. You could also take a canoe trip, take the train or even go on a hiking trip and hike from city to city. The possibilities are endless, so take a chance and decrease your carbon footprint by exploring a new alternative way to travel.
Learn more about reducing your carbon footprint. Visit www.gundersenenvision.org.
Have you ever seen a green roof before? If you haven’t, there is still a chance you might due to its growing popularity. What is a green roof? A green roof refers to a roof covered in vegetation which is planted over a waterproofing membrane. Some green roofs will include additional layers such as root barriers and irrigation and drainage systems. Green roofs could also refer to roofs using green technology such as solar thermal collectors or photovoltaic panels. What is the purpose of a green roof and why is it becoming more popular? Green roofs serve to absorb water (which prevents runoff), provide insulation, create a habitat for wild life, lower urban air temperatures, and filter pollutants in the air such as CO2. Green roofs are claimed to also reduce urban heat island effect, which is when a city or heavily populated area absorbs and traps heat. Although green roofs cost twice as much as a conventional rooftop to build, the pay back is worth the upfront cost. Why? Because green roofs last longer than conventional rooftops by protecting the membrane of the roof from the sun’s rays and weather-related elements.
When it comes to green roofs there are two types: intensive and extensive. Intensive rooftops serve as rooftop gardens. They are thicker, support a large variety of big and small plants, and require more maintenance. They usually hold around 80-150lbs/sq. ft. Extensive green roofs are lighter, have a light layer of vegetation, and are self-sustaining (meaning they require minimal maintenance). They usually hold about 15-50lbs/sq. ft. For those planning to grow a rooftop garden, the intensive roof would be the best choice.
Cities and homeowners around the world are realizing the benefits from green roofs. Anyone willing and ready can put a green roof on their own house or business. At Gundersen we use green technology. For example our Integrated Center for Education building (ICE House) has a white roof which helps reflect the heat of the sun away from the building, and our new hospital has an outdoor garden that serves as a healing environment for patients and visitors. Curious as to what else we do? Check out our website on sustainable design at http://www.gundersenenvision.org/building-design.
Posted in Building Design
Tagged environment, Envision, green roof, Gundersen Health System, Insulation, photovoltaic panels, pollutants, rooftop, runoff, sustainable design, technology, vegetation
Recycling paper is a great way to help the environment. The picture on the left is a recycling bin for paper located directly under an employee’s desk at Gundersen Health System. The close proximity of this bin makes it easier to recycle paper without the employee having to go out of their way. The picture on the right is a large recycling bin located within a department – close enough so employees can easily empty their recycling bins under their desk at the end of the day. These large recycling bins are found throughout the Health System. Simple and easy to reach placements for recycling bins is part of the reason Gundersen was able to recycle up to 460 tons of paper and cardboard in 2012.
Gundersen has recently expanded its efforts to recycle more than just paper and cardboard. The organization also recycles plastic, metal, blue wrap, batteries, and waste leftover from construction. Small efforts, such as recycling paper, can easily be achieved by any organization or individual ready and willing to make a difference. If you are an individual or business owner who is weary of recycling due to costs or the extra effort required, consider “reducing” the amount of waste that is created in the first place and then go from there!
For more information on recycling and other sustainable practices, visit the Envision website at www.gundersenenvision.org.
What do you do with unused, expired, or leftover medications? Do you throw them in the trash or flush them down the drain? If you do either of those two things, you should stop because medications can be harmful to the environment. If you throw medications in the trash they can end up in the landfill and if you flush medications down the drain they can end up in a water treatment plant or go straight to the nearby water system (river). If medications end up in the river they can lead to surface water contamination and toxicity to fish and other wildlife. In Wisconsin, it is estimated that around 120 million pounds of pharmaceuticals are sold each year, and about one third go unused. This leads to an accumulation of drugs in the household which not only poses a risk for the environment, but also poses a risk for humans. This includes ingestion, overdose and drug abuse. What can you do to prevent this?
At Gundersen Health System we help to inform the community of when and where medication drop offs are taking place. A medication drop off is a place where people can bring their expired, unused or leftover prescription drugs, and they will be properly disposed of. Medication drop offs are one of the best ways for people to properly dispose of drugs in their household. Medication drop offs can take place at pharmacies, local sponsoring businesses, hospitals, or hazardous waste sites. Other ways to reduce pharmaceutical waste include asking your doctor to only give you as much medication as you will need to avoid leftovers, and using medications before they expire.
Before throwing your unused medication away, think about the environment and the people close to you and remember that the smartest choice is to take the medication to a location where it will be properly disposed of.
Posted in Health and Wellness
Tagged contamination, environment, Envision, Gundersen Health System, hazardous waste, healthcare, landfill, medication drop off, pharmaceuticals, river, sustainable, toxicity, water system
Before recycling your plastic bottle, take the cap off first! The picture above shows a conveniently located container for bottle caps on top of a recycling container for plastics. Why should you remove the cap? The cap and the bottle are made of different plastics, so removing the cap increases the chance of your bottle getting recycled. Plastic bottles are usually made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) or commonly known as a #1 plastic, while caps are made of polypropylene, or #5 plastic. These two types of plastics melt at different temperatures in the recycling process. Removing the cap also helps to dry out the bottle. Mixing plastics can contaminate the batch being recycled, which is why the caps should be taken off. Because plastic caps are a thicker material, they can jam the equipment at recycling facilities, posing risks for workers. But what should you do with the plastic caps once they are separated?
Plastic caps are not commonly recycled, so most people just throw them away. However, there are places that do recycle them, but that will vary depending on where you live so you will have to do your own research. #5 plastics are made into items such as tupperware, ice scrapers, rakes, battery cables, and more. Although it takes extra time to recycle your bottle cap, consider the positive impact it will make on the environment. So next time you recycle your plastic bottle, remove the cap!
Learn more about recyling at gundersenenvision.org. Better yet, attend one of our Sustainability Series seminars.
Do you pay attention to the source of your paper products? If not, take a look—perhaps you may discover that it is time for a change. Why? Deforestation has been an ongoing issue for a long time. If trees are not cut down sustainably, there can be major issues to the environment including runoff, soil degradation, and a loss of habitat for wild animals. What does it mean to cut down trees sustainably? There are many ways that include cutting down trees in rows or cutting down random trees scattered throughout the forest. The goal is to leave some trees behind to still support the soil and wildlife in that area.
Today, many companies are starting to purchase their wood or paper products from sustainable sources. This is good news for you as a customer because it gives you the option to choose something that is better for the environment. So what should you look for when it comes to sustainably produced paper sources? Look for paper that has the FSC label or Forest Stewardship Council label. This council is a non-profit organization dedicated to forest preservation. They work with various other groups including the government to preserve our forests and provide people with enough wood at the same time. Another great option is looking for recycled paper. But make sure to pay attention to how much of it is recycled and choose the product that is closest to being 100% recycled. If you don’t, you may end up using paper that is made up of a higher percentage of newer trees rather than reused product. Next time you buy any type of paper product, look for the source and choose something that not only benefits you but also the environment.
Posted in Recycling, Sustainability Management
Tagged deforestation, environment, Envision, Forest Stewardship Council, Gundersen Health System, paper products, recycle, sustainability, Trees, wildlife
Interested in learning how to integrate sustainability into your organization? Check out our sustainability seminars! We have three seminars this Spring: Energy Conservation, Renewable Energy Project Development, and Sustainability Management.
Energy Conservation – March 18-20
- energy audits
- measuring energy costs
- energy conservation projects (including geothermal and cooling systems)
- lighting solutions
- building a business case, and much more
Renewable Energy Project Development – April 15-17
- renewable resource characteristics
- enhancing with partnerships
- contract strategy and legal considerations
- building a business case
- government partnerships, and much more
Sustainability Management – May 20-22
- sustainable design practices
- action planning
- building a business case
- control plans and scorecards, and much more
You will also go on tours and see firsthand the energy projects on the Gundersen Health System campuses and how they work.
Why should you attend our seminars?
Our Envision program has set the standard for renewable energy projects in healthcare. We know exactly what large organizations need and we are ready and willing to get your organization started on the path toward sustainability. Now is the time to start making change, so wait no longer and sign up for our sustainability series! http://www.gundersenenvision.org/educational-programs
We look forward to seeing you soon!
The photo on the left shows a shake conveyor system that moves wood chip fuel from the receiving pit to the new biomass boiler. At the end of the conveyor are a series of holes that allow the properly sized chips to fall into another conveyor that transports the fuel into a blower system that will feed the fuel into the burner. The system uses electronic controls and proximity sensors to move the required amount of fuel to the boiler without human intervention. Occasionally, there are chips or pieces of the fuel supply that do not meet the proper dimensions and are too large for the blower system and burner. These pieces are called “overs” and are collected into a separate bin shown in the far right photo. Overs are then ground to the proper size and fed back into the receiving pit to go through the process. Fuel specifications should be listed in the fuel contract to control the amount of overs in the raw fuel supply to minimize labor required for rework. Careful consideration and evaluation of fuel sources are an important step in making a biomass system work properly.
Learn more about renewable energy, energy conservation, and sustainability management. Attend Gundersen Health System’s Envision seminars. For more information visit http://www.gundersenenvision.org/educational-programs.
The photo on the left shows the first truckload of wood chip fuel for Gundersen Health System’s new biomass boiler. Each truckload holds between 20 and 25 tons of wood chips. Gundersen’s hospital requires steam all year to heat buildings, serve its onsite laundry, reheat air in its air-conditioning systems, sterilize medical equipment, cook food, and clean dishes. During hot summer days, the boiler will require one truckload of fuel and during cold winter days it will require 3 truckloads. The fuel is clean, hardwood chips from lumber and sawmill operations in the local region. It is a clean, organic source that is renewable.
The trailers have a “walking floor” bottom that pushes the wood chips into a receiving pit on the far left of the photo. In addition to the receiving pits, there is a floor storage area for any extra fuel that may be needed for an extended weekend or holiday. The photo on the right shows steel push plates that protect the concrete wall of the storage facility when front end loaders are used to move the fuel in that location.
Learn more about renewable energy, energy conservation, and sustainability management by attending one or all of our seminars. Visit http://www.gundersenenvision.org/educational-programs for more information.
Each year beverage cans (otherwise known as aluminum cans) are produced by the millions worldwide. Canning beverages began in the 1930’s after the success with canning food. Like canned foods, beverage cans are also lined with a plastic liner to help ensure the longevity of the product. Beverage cans are easy to transport and they are cheap. Various sizes for beverage cans are used throughout the world. For example, the standard size in the United States is 12 US FL oz. Beverage cans in the United States are made of aluminum while in Europe and Asia they are made of both aluminum and steel. Now that we have covered the basics of beverage cans, what else is important to know about them?
Beverage cans are one of the most cost effective materials to recycle. For example, producing new metals requires a lot of electricity. Recycling on the other hand is cheaper and more environmentally friendly because you are using less electricity due to the fact you aren’t using new material. So how can you recycle your cans? Start by collecting your beverage cans in a container or bag. Some people use can crushers so as to make more space. It is also helpful to rinse out your beverage can before collecting it. There are many collection sites that will take your cans. Some places will even pay you for the cans you bring in. The cans you bring in will most likely be remade into new beverage cans. Or you can reuse your beverage cans for decorations, crafts or art projects at home. So the next time you buy an aluminum can, consider what you can do with it and how you can keep it out of the landfill.
For more information on recycling, please visit http://www.gundersenenvision.org/recycling