Gundersen receives Practice Greenhealth environmental awards

For the ninth consecutive year, Gundersen Health System has been awarded the most prestigious environmental achievement award offered by Practice Greenhealth, the nation’s leading membership and networking organization for institutions in the healthcare community that have made a commitment to sustainable, eco-friendly practices.

Practice Greenhealth’s Top 25 Environmental Excellence Award is given to healthcare facilities that exemplify environmental excellence and are setting the highest standards for environmental practices in healthcare.

Gundersen also received Circle of Excellence awards for outstanding performance in four categories:

1. Leadership Circle – The Leadership Circle represents the top performers with a strong infrastructure supporting a long term commitment to healthier environments through committee structure, reporting, data tracking, communication and education.

2. Less Waste Circle – Hospitals in this circle have excelled in waste prevention and material handling, demonstrated through high recycling rates, low regulated medical waste generation and low rates of total waste generated per patient day.

3. Energy Circle – The Energy Circle celebrates hospitals that are leading the sector in energy efficiency. Leaders generally have energy managers and written programs to reduce energy use over time. They are tracking energy use intensity, ENERGY STAR performance metrics, and share details on project implementation and staff engagement strategies.

4. Climate Circle – The Climate Circle highlights visionary hospitals taking the lead on tracking and measurement of CO2 emissions, and overall climate program development. Hospitals in this Circle demonstrate an understanding of the health impacts of climate change and are taking action to mitigate those impacts and educate their staff and communities on playing a supporting role.

Gundersen’s energy program, Envision, is leading the country in healthcare sustainability and has the data and documentation to prove its success. “Gundersen prioritizes green practices in our day-to-day operations as an organizational imperative,” said Jeff Rich, executive director of Envision. “It’s an honor to be recognized for our commitment to the health and safety of our patients, staff, environment, and the community at large.”

Gundersen’s energy team wants to help other organizations achieve similar success. Take the first step by scheduling an energy check-up, and find out how you can reduce your energy use by 10% in just one year.

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Gundersen joins global environmental challenge

It’s no secret: Gundersen Health System is a healthcare leader when it comes to sustainability programs that protect our patients and the environment. While others are just scratching the surface, Gundersen has achieved energy independence and is teaching others how to lower costs while improving the health of patients and communities.

This education extends to Gundersen’s commitment to the 2020 Health Care Climate Challenge, an international initiative from Health Care Without Harm’s Global Green and Healthy Hospitals Network. Nine leading healthcare organizations have pledged to protect public health through environmental action leading up to a United Nations conference on the environment this December in Paris.

“It is our mission to improve the health of the communities we serve, which includes taking action to improve and protect our environment, reduce our waste and lower our costs,” says Jeff Thompson, MD, CEO of Gundersen. “Not every healthcare organization makes this a priority, but we are showing it is possible to provide exceptional patient care and exceptional care for the environment.”

Along with Gundersen, initial participants in the 2020 Challenge include Kaiser Permanente, Counties Manukau Health (New Zealand), Hospital Albert Einstein and Hospital Sirio Libanes (Brazil), NHS Sustainable Development Unit (England), Virginia Mason Health System (USA), Western Cape Health System (South Africa), and Yonsei University Health System (South Korea).

Click here to learn more about Gundersen’s energy independence achievement and our sustainability programs that are attracting an international audience.

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Tips for living green everyday

  1. Plant an herb garden
  2. Switch all your lightbulbs to CFLs (or at least switch a few)
  3. Create a homemade compost bin for $15
  4. Switch one appliance to an energy efficient model (look for the “energy star” label)
  5. Use reusable bags, not disposable
  6. Buy an inexpensive reusable water bottle and stop buying plastic disposable bottles
  7. Watch The Story of Bottled Water, a short movie about the bottled water phenomena
  8. Wash laundry in cold water instead of hot
  9. Turn off lights when you leave the room
  10. Use natural light whenever possible
  11. Drive the speed limit and combine all your errands for the week in one trip (better yet, walk or ride a bike to do errands that are two miles or closer)
  12. Support your local economy and shop at your farmer’s market
  13. Turn off your computer completely at night
  14. Research whether you can sign up for green power from your utility company
  15. Pay your bills online

Learn more about environmental sustainability at

cleaner air

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Gundersen wins Amerinet Healthcare Achievement Award

Gundersen Health System’s Envision program will receive an Amerinet Healthcare Achievement Award in the category of Community Impact and Innovation for its recent achievement of energy independence.

Through this annual awards program, Amerinet, a leading national healthcare solutions organization, recognizes its members for their outstanding and innovative contributions to their patients, community and business partners in reducing healthcare costs, improving healthcare quality and serving the community.

Representatives from Gundersen will be presented with the award at a ceremony that will be held during the 2015 Amerinet Member Conference, May 17-20, in Orlando, Fla. The winning project will also be featured in a professional banner session and included in a best practices compendium.

Read the press release.

Find out how Gundersen Envision can help you achieve your energy goals.

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Envision can help with building design

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Gundersen Health System’s new hospital

When building new or remodeling existing space, sustainability opportunities exist in everything from energy efficiency and using renewable energy to building with environmentally friendly materials to recycling construction waste.

Being thoughtful from the start of design can help prevent past environmental practices from showing up in your new facility. In fact, 75 percent of a building’s life-cycle costs are committed in the design phase, so it is important to get it right the first time.

How can Gundersen Envision help you?

We can help you find the hidden sustainability opportunities that exist when designing a new building or remodeling.

Why is Gundersen Envision qualified to help you?

Gundersen Health System recently completed several major building projects on our main campus, including a new hospital. Some of our notable achievements in building design include:

  • Energy efficiency in the top 1 percent for hospitals in the Midwest.
  • Construction recycling and reuse rates exceeding 93 percent.
  • Multiple LEED-certified facilities.
  • Use of internal standards for energy efficient design on a variety of new construction and renovation project.
  • Experience with benchmarking facility performance.

More about building design

Contact Envision at for more information.

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Visit Gundersen Envision at Becker’s 6th annual meeting

Becker’s Hospital Review 6th Annual Meeting
May 7-9
Chicago, IL

Please stop by our booth – #59 Silver
Our energy experts will be on hand to discuss your sustainability initiatives and how an energy check-up can likely reduce your energy use by 10 percent in the first year alone.

When Gundersen Health System reached its goal of energy independence this past fall, the rewards were greater than lower energy costs for the organization and the satisfaction of becoming the first healthcare system in the nation to achieve this distinction, the real payoff was in cleaner air and a brighter future for our children and grandchildren.

We learned a lot along the way. And we’re poised to offer others the opportunity to benefit from our experience. Gundersen Envision consultants are working with businesses across the nation, creating a healthier environment and bottom line. Specializing in enterprises with large facilities—from healthcare and education to the hospitality industry—we can help you define or refine your sustainability initiatives.

Learn more about the services Envision offers.

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Gundersen Health System wins Energy-Independence Enterprise of the Year Award

middleton-digester-16RENEW Wisconsin presented Gundersen Health System with the Energy-Independence Enterprise of the Year Award at its recent RENEW Energy Policy Summit held in Madison, WI.

The award is given for outstanding leadership and effective implementation of a corporate campaign to greatly reduce fossil fuel use by a large healthcare network spanning three states and 19 counties. Six years in the making, Gundersen’s significant investments in conservation, co-generation and local clean power in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa now offset 100% of the energy consumed by all of its facilities.

Awards were presented to businesses and individuals whose achievements and vision helped lift Wisconsin’s renewable energy marketplace to new heights in 2014. “The people and companies we [recognized] are making a lasting impression on Wisconsin’s renewable energy landscape,” said RENEW Wisconsin Executive Director Tyler Huebner. “We at RENEW are honored to have the opportunity to work closely with these award winners and take inspiration from their ongoing commitment to advancing clean energy here,” Huebner said.

Jeff Rich, executive director of  Envision®, Gundersen’s energy program, accepted the award on behalf of Gundersen. “We are honored to once again be acknowledged by RENEW WI with this award.  We believe that our energy program is the right thing to do to help keep healthcare affordable, reduce harmful emissions, and improve the economy of the communities we serve.  Hopefully our example can inspire other organizations and individuals to take steps toward a cleaner, more self-sufficient future,” said Jeff.

The photo above is of Envision’s dairy digester project in Middleton, WI, one of the many projects that helped Gundersen reach energy independence.

Learn about Envision’s journey to energy independence at

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Gundersen Health System joins White House climate effort

Dr.Thompson in DCGundersen Health System CEO Jeffery Thompson, MD, was recently invited to the White House to join senior White House officials and healthcare leaders from across the country to discuss sustainability efforts and resilience to extreme weather events and other impacts of climate change.

Pictured above at the White House conference are U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Syliva Mathews Burwell (center), Gundersen Health System CEO Jeffery Thompson, MD, (left) and Seema Wadhwa (right), Inova Health System.

Gundersen Health System is one of 12 healthcare organizations in the U.S. to commit to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Sustainable and Climate Resilient Health Care Facilities initiative, part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan.

Others involved include the Cleveland Clinic, Kaiser Permanente, Partners HealthCare, Virginia Mason Health System, University Hospital, Dignity Health, Ascension Health, Inova Health Systems, Intermountain Healthcare, Tenet Health and ThedaCare.

Gundersen reaches energy independence goal
In 2008, Dr. Thompson set a goal for the organization to control rising energy costs and improve the health of the communities it serves. It focused on two main initiatives–reducing consumption by improving efficiency and creating cleaner energy. On October 14, 2014, Gundersen used more energy than it consumed, becoming the first healthcare system in the country to attain energy independence.

“We set out to make the air better for our patients to breathe, control our rising energy costs, and help our local economy…. We believe we have made more progress on all three than anyone else in the country,” said Thompson. He adds, “Gundersen has shown that you can be financially disciplined, improve the local economy, and positively impact the environment.”

For more on Gundersen’s sustainable, resilient business practices, visit

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Let Envision help you achieve your energy goals

Whether you’re just launching your sustainability program or are ready to take it to the next level, Envision can help!

During the journey toward energy independence, the Gundersen Envision team gained valuable knowledge – knowledge that we can pass on to other organizations, like yours!

Our consulting service is aimed at helping you achieve success and avoiding costly mistakes. We can show you how developing or enhancing a portfolio of sustainability projects can help lower costs while improving the health of the communities you serve.

Our energy check-up will help you:

  • Uncover a number of quick-payback energy conservation measures in your organization.
  • Make simple changes that will result in a 10% energy savings in one year.
  • Reduce fossil fuel demand.
  • Lessen your organization’s environmental footprint.

Don’t miss the opportunity to learn directly from the team setting the standards. Contact us today to start turning your energy goals into reality.

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Gundersen reaches first days of energy independence

First health system in nation to achieve this distinction

LA CROSSE WI–Gundersen Health System achieved its first days of energy independence, becoming the first health system in the nation to attain the distinction. Oct. 14, 2014 was the first day that Gundersen produced more energy than the health system consumed.

In 2008, Dr. Jeff Thompson, Gundersen CEO, set a goal for the organization to control rising energy costs and improve the health of the communities it serves. They focused on two main initiatives–reducing consumption by improving efficiency and creating cleaner energy.


“We did not set out to be the greenest health system,” says Dr. Thompson. “We set out to make the air better for our patients to breathe, control our rising energy costs and help our local economy. We believe we have made more progress on all three than anyone else in the country.”

Gundersen’s accomplishments include energy efficiency improvement of over 40% resulting in annual financial savings of nearly $2 million from conservation alone. Regional partnerships in energy creation include dairy digesters, wind turbines, and a landfill gas-to-energy initiative. Local projects also include geothermal energy and a biomass boiler. “We are keeping nearly 477,000 pounds of particulates out of the atmosphere each year,” adds Dr. Thompson.

“We set our sights on a goal that had never been achieved.  And while we are a national leader, we still have work to do,” says Jeff Rich, executive director of Envision®, Gundersen’s energy subsidiary. “We have crossed the threshold to energy independence. It’s like breaking the sound barrier. We were the first to do it and it’s pretty astounding. Our next chapter will be to turn the days into months and years.”

Producing more clean energy than they use has been a challenge and a moving target. Hospitals typically use two and a half times more energy than commercial buildings. Wisconsin has one of the most energy-intensive climates in the nation. Also, since the goal was set, expansion has occurred within Gundersen, including construction of two new hospitals (a 25 percent increase in space). “We have shown that you can be financially disciplined, improve the local economy and positively impact the environment,” adds Dr. Thompson.

To learn more about Gundersen’s sustainability efforts, visit

About Gundersen Health System

Gundersen Health System is a non-profit, comprehensive integrated healthcare network headquartered in La Crosse, Wis. Gundersen’s more than 6,000 employees serve 19 counties in western Wisconsin, southeastern Minnesota, and northeastern Iowa. Their network includes a multi-specialty group medical practice, teaching hospital, regional community clinics, regional hospital and clinic partners, behavioral health services, vision centers, pharmacies, and air and ground ambulances.

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