Try these eco-friendly holiday celebration tips


“Go green” this holiday season and have fun doing it. Here are some tips to help you be environmentally friendly during the holidays.

  • Reduce your carbon footprint by celebrating at home instead of using fuel to travel. If you have to travel, consider driving instead of flying, carpooling with other family members, and using the most fuel-efficient vehicle.
  • Plan ahead by picking out local or organic fruits and vegetables and freezing or canning them for use at your holiday meal. Buy your meat or dairy products locally if possible. This not only supports  local business, but decreases your carbon footprint because your food is not being transported from a distant location. So next time you drive by a local butcher shop, take a look inside!
  • At the dinner table, avoid serving with disposable items like Styrofoam or paper. When it comes to napkins, use cloth. Not only will it look nicer, it will decrease what you put in the landfill.
  • Make your own decorations from materials around the house. Not only will this save you money but the decorations will be unique and more meaningful.
  • Think before you throw away containers or packaging that your holiday items came in. Look for ways to reuse them or at minimum, recycle them.
  • Invite neighbors or friends over for the holidays. Not only would this reduce carbon footprints but it will bring you closer to those you care about.

Consider these ideas for other celebrations too. Next time you start planning for a celebration or event, think green.

Learn more at

Easy steps to lower your home heating costs


If you live in an area where the autumn season brings chilly temperatures, here are some tips to help save on your heating bill.

Insulate your walls and ceilings adequately.This can save 20 to 30 percent on home heating bills. Have an inspection by a qualified technician if you’ve not looked at your insulation for quite some time. Insulation will compress and shift over time which reduces its effectiveness.

Weatherize your home or apartment, using caulk and weather stripping to plug air leaks around doors and windows.Caulking costs less than $1 per window, and weather stripping is under $10 per door.

Close drapes and window coverings at night. This will reduce the heat lost through windows. During the day, open drapes and coverings to allow the sun to radiantly heat your home.

Use Ceiling Fans to utilize heat more efficiently
Heat rises and much of the heat loss in your home is through the ceiling. Most ceiling fans have a switch to reverse their direction. As you enter the heating season, reverse the direction of your ceiling fans and set them on low. This will better mix the warm and cool air in your home and slow the rate of heat escaping through the ceiling. Ceiling fans do not use much electricity and this will result in a net energy savings.

There are also several low or no cost steps that can be taken to lower the cost of heating commercial buildings. Find out more at

Think “reuse” when it comes to back-to-school supplies


Most kids like the idea of buying new school supplies each year, but going back to school doesn’t have to be expensive. Before shelling out lots of dough purchasing new supplies, look at what was left over from last year. You may be surprised to find most notebooks, pencils, pens, erasers, and markers can be used again. Use paper bags, leftover wrapping paper, or even a couple layers of newspapers to make book covers.

Reusing school supplies not only saves money, it is better for the environment. Reusing results in less trash sent to the landfill. The plastic found in pens, folders, and calculators are produced with fossil fuels; fossil fuel emissions negatively impact the environment. Paper comes from trees; cutting trees on a massive scale is harmful to the environment.

So think “reuse” when it comes to this year’s school supplies. You can save money and teach your children what it means to be good stewards of their resources at the same time. If you must purchase a few new items, look for products made from recycled paper, plastic, and reclaimed materials.

Learn about other ways to save energy and money at Gundersen Envision.

What is Farm to School?

Farm to School is a nation-wide program that provides early childhood education to cultivate healthy eating habits by exposing children to healthy local foods, cooking lessons, taste tests, gardening, field trips, and more.

Farm to School is a key strategy for early childhood development for two reasons: Health and high-quality learning. Well-nourished children are able to function better in school during a critical stage in their development.

Gundersen Health System is an active member of the Farm to School program.  Gundersen’s Certified Executive Chef Thomas Sacksteder supports the local program by visiting schools to educate students on healthy eating habits. The program also includes a “Harvest of the Month,” in which one local food is selected and promoted throughout the school system. Chef Thomas uses the “Harvest of the Month” in the recipes he showcases to students, and it is then served in the school cafeterias.

Grants received from the “Chefs Move to Schools” program have enabled Chef Thomas to continue to teach children about healthy food in a fun and appealing way.  Watch Chef’s Farm to School education assembly at a local school.

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How does the Farm to School program relate to sustainability? Food purchased from local farmers does not travel as far to reach point of sale, which in turn saves energy and reduces fossil fuel emissions. Buying local also supports the local economy.

Get involved! The Farm to School program exists in all states. If you or your organization is interested in helping children learn to eat healthy, check out the National Farm to School Network.

For more information on Gundersen’s sustainability programs, visit

Help minimize healthcare’s environmental footprint

Are you interested in reducing EUI and GHG at your facility? Envision’s energy consultants can help you identify and prioritize energy efficiency opportunities beyond the “low-hanging fruit.”

Our consulting services include:

Energy efficiency improvement (especially healthcare facilities)

    • Base lining and benchmarking facility performance
    • Lean “kaizen” events to launch an energy management program
    • Common sources of energy waste
    • Validating improvements with measurement systems

Renewable energy project development (from an “owner’s” perspective)

    • Best technology choices for a particular geography (i.e. wind, solar, biogas, biomass, geoexchange, hydro, etc.)
    • Site selection tradeoffs
    • Feedstock considerations
    • Permitting challenges
    • Available Incentives
    • Financial business case development and modeling
    • Contract considerations for equipment supply, construction, and operation
    • Operations and maintenance considerations

Project case studies

    • Commercial wind projects
    • Landfill biogas combined heat and power project
    • Dairy manure anaerobic digester projects
    • Biomass (woodchip) boiler with backpressure steam turbine (co-generation)
    • Geoexchange (ground source) heat pump
    • Heat recovery chiller
    • Solar hot water systems
    • Solar photovoltaic system

Why choose Envision to help you?

Gundersen Health System has set the standard for sustainability—from an innovative recycling and waste management program to a robust energy conservation program to innovative partnerships for renewable energy projects.

We achieved our first days of energy independence, becoming the first health system in the nation to attain the distinction.

Our specific sustainability plans turn good intentions and “green” theory into action, and we can show you how.

For more information or to talk to a consultant, email or call toll-free (855) 669-1653.

Lower your summer energy bill


Open windows
On cooler days and nights, turn off your air conditioner and open your windows. Use a fan; it does not use as much electricity as an air conditioning compressor.

Use ceiling fans to cool your house
The most efficient ceiling fans cost as little as 30 cents a month if used eight hours a day. A  window air conditioner can cost 50 times as much as a fan. Ceiling fans will keep the air moving and allow you to keep the thermostat setting higher because moving air feels cooler.

Provide shading for your air conditioning condenser
Your central air conditioner condenser works more efficiently in a cooler environment. Provide shade around your air conditioner to reduce your cooling costs by nearly 3 percent.

Dry a load of laundry on the clothesline
Thirty years ago most clothes were dried outside on the line. Your electric dryer is a large energy user and consumes about 30 cents of electricity per load. During nice weather, try drying some loads the old fashioned way – on the clothesline. It also has the added benefit of a fresh smell for your laundry.

Utilize moisture sensing technology on your electric dryer
Most new electric dryers have sensors that can detect the moisture level in your clothes and shut off the cycle when they are dry.  This saves energy costs when compared to a timed dry cycle which is likely to waste energy after clothes are dry.

Plant trees for shade
Deciduous trees—those that produce leaves in the spring and lose them in the fall—shade your house from the sun during warmer days and let the sun warm your house on cooler days. Shading your home could save up to 8 percent on cooling costs.

Change your air conditioning filter
Clean or replace your central air conditioner filter monthly during the cooling season to improve the efficiency and extend the life of the unit.

Raise your thermostat setting
You can save $25 or more each month during the summer by raising your thermostat temperature from 72 to 78 degrees.

Learn about other ways to save energy at

Walk, ride, share for cleaner air

walk, ride, share

Champion a Walk, Ride, Share for Cleaner Air employee challenge at your work place and start making a difference today!

Gundersen Health System’s Walk, Ride, Share for Cleaner Air commuting challenge gives staff incentives for biking, car-pooling, taking the bus or walking to work. Each month through the end of August, employees who participate in the challenge have a chance to win gift cards and other great prizes.

Active and alternative commuting not only promotes a healthy lifestyle, it helps reduce greenhouse emissions, which can cause illness and disease such as cancer, asthma, cardiac, and reproductive problems.

Active/alternative commuting options

  • Walking
  • Bicycle riding
  • Car pooling
  • Using mass transit transportation
  • Any other travel without driving yourself (rollerblading, skateboarding)


It’s OK if you are not able to actively or alternatively commute every day. Do it as often as you are able.

Start your challenge today!

Learn more about reducing energy consumption and greenhouse emissions from the environmental leaders at Envision.