Go Green at Work

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These are just a few things you can do at work that add up and make a difference. Find other ways at gundersenenvision.org.

  • Do you really need to print that document? If so print double-sided when possible
  • Use natural light when available – window shades up, lights off
  • Abandon elevators – burn calories not energy by taking the stairs instead
  • No more disposables – bring your own water bottle, plates, cups, and silverware for your meals
  • Practice using less paper towels and napkins
  • Power down your computer before leaving for the day
  • Know where your recycling options are
    –  paper
    –  plastic
    –  cans
    –  glass
    –  batteries
  • Join a carpool

Nurse champions in environmental sustainability

All healthcare employees have a role to play in supporting initiatives within their organization to become more environmentally responsible and reduce the impact of climate change. Nurses are emerging as vital leaders in healthcare sustainability and are playing an especially important role in addressing climate change and related health issues.

Gundersen Health System’s (GHS) nursing department received one of  two-$10,000 grants awarded by Health Care Without Harm to design and develop programs to help empower its nurses and support their sustainability leadership efforts. Surgical & Digestive Care Unit Nurse Phoebe Breed played a key role in implementing Gundersen’s nursing initiative. “The question we started asking was, ‘what are the things that they’re doing every day that they don’t even realize is contributing to sustainability?’ ” Breed stated.

Gundersen’s nursing leadership program streamlines sustainability education by using existing educational frameworks. Breed said, “Using the preexisting framework as the foundation for this program really resonated with our staff because it was something that was already familiar to them. We identified and implemented resources that already worked with our culture as a communication framework.”

Read the complete story.

Find out more about Gundersen’s environmental program, Envision.

Don’t turn on the heat just yet


Fall is just around the corner and that means cooler weather is on the way. Try these energy and money saving tips before you crank up the heat for the first time.

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 gundersenenvision.org.

Energy independence – see how we did it

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Gundersen Health System’s path to energy independence took two tracks – energy conservation and development of energy projects in cooperation with regional partners.

Watch this short video to see how Gundersen did it, project-by-project.

Students see Gundersen’s energy conservation projects in action

Biomass Gundersen Envision

Gundersen’s biomass boiler burns locally-sourced wood chips to create clean energy.

This summer’s University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) “Energy and the Earth” engaged thousands of people worldwide. However, UW students were given an opportunity to participate beyond the online forum when they visited Gundersen Health System to see Gundersen’s Envision energy conversation projects in action.

The students toured Envision’s dairy digester, biomass boiler, solar, wind, and geothermal heat pump projects, which represent Gundersen’s path to energy independence.

“It was incredible to see one organization using so many types of renewable energy,” said Anna Ostermeier. “I was impressed that so many of their initiatives were able to take off, despite the challenges. After learning about several energy technologies in the MOOC, it was interesting to see how they were put into practice.”

“They use leftover wood chips from nearby lumber mills to fuel a biomass digester and methane produced by a nearby landfill to fuel a generator,” said Brooke Marten, who is studying civil engineering. “They use what others may view as waste and turn it into useful energy. I hope other businesses follow in their footsteps.”

Gundersen reached its goal of energy independence last October and is helping other healthcare organizations realize how they too can become more energy independent.Envision speakers and consultants are available to come to you. Find out how!

Gundersen CEO speaking at Latin American Forum

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Dr. Thompson standing atop one of Gundersen’s wind turbines in Cashton, WI.

Jeff Thompson, MD, CEO of Gundersen Health System, will bring our organization’s message of better health and well-being for our communities through sustainable environmental programs next week to an international audience.

Dr. Thompson is a featured speaker at the first Latin American Forum (1º Fórum Latino Americano de Qualidade e Segurança na Saúde), August 13-16 in São Paulo, Brazil. Through this year’s theme – “Pursuing Sustainability” – the forum brings together healthcare professionals from around the world to discuss contemporary health issues like environmental sustainability, population health and quality improvement.

Dr. Thompson will discuss Gundersen’s journey to become the first health system in the United States to achieve energy independence and the wealth of opportunities available to health systems that use environmentally and economically-sustainable business practices. He will be joined by Marcos Tucherman, manager at Albert Einstein Israelite Hospital in Sao Paulo, and Veronica Odriozola, executive director of Health Care Without Harm Latin America.

The Forum is sponsored by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) in partnership with Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein.

Find out how Gundersen achieved energy independence and simple steps you can take to become more environmentally and economically sustainable.

Walk, ride, share for cleaner air

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Active commuting encourages people to get physically active on a regular basis and to reduce greenhouse emissions and traffic congestion by actively or alternatively commuting. In addition, reducing energy consumption will help prevent illness by reducing environmental factors linked to diseases (cancer, respiratory, asthma, reproductive, cardiac).

Active/alternative commuting includes:

  • Walking
  • Bicycle riding
  • Car pooling
  • Using mass transit transportation
  • Any other travel without driving yourself (rollerblading, skateboarding. Have fun and get creative.)

Safety Tips
Follow the Rules of the Road – As appropriate – obey all traffic signs, signal and watch for traffic at intersections, cross at crosswalks, do not exceed speed limit, wear seat belt at all times, ride with traffic (bike, car), walk against traffic or use sidewalk when available, use proper lane position, etc.

Wear appropriate attire to be visible and safe – As appropriate – wear helmet, protective equipment (bike, rollerblade), be visible-wear bright clothing or reflective clothing, wear lights on person or bike, wear comfortable shoes, wear seat belt (car, bus if applicable), use rain gear as appropriate-poncho, umbrella, fenders, etc.

Be alert and aware of surroundings – As appropriate – do not use ear buds or listen to loud radio, do not talk or text on cell phone, monitor surroundings for potential dangers – environmental lighting, uneven terrain, road conditions, etc.

Safety inspection of your mode of transportation – As appropriate – secure cargo, ensure proper tire inflation, ensure mechanical items in good working condition – brakes, chains, belts, lights, turn signals, etc. Shoes in good working condition (not excessively worn, protecting feet from hazards), laces secured, etc.

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

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